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Keys to better parenting: Loving - and listening - to your child

Working parents often let love and common sense be their main guides in raising kids. Their thought: Forget big plans written in books. Who has time to read or follow them?

It's not all bad, according to Families First, a Boston-based parenting education and support agency. These busy people may instinctively be cultivating the seven essentials to raising well-adjusted children:

1. Tune in to your child. Even listen to babies. They show interest by gurgles, focus, animated movements and rapid breathing.

If your older child expresses an interest in bugs, for example, encourage it. You may have a budding entomologist. If she has a problem, take time to help her solve it.

2. Be consistent. Kids thrive on predictability. Schedules and rules give them a sense of order says Dr. Stanley Turecki, author of Normal Children Have Problems Too.

3. Love them and show that you do. Do it by encouraging their interests even when they don't match your own. Gear your expectations to the child's talents and needs and you will show that you accept him.

4. Be flexible. But let her know that staying up late, for example, is an exception to the rule and doesn't change the usual time for bed.

5. Change expectations as a child grows. If you don't have books on what to expect, friends and co-workers can be great resources. Ask them, but discover what works best for you and do that.

6. Be rested. It's O.K. to tell your children that you are exhausted and need 15 minutes of downtime. Child rearing can be physically tiring, especially in the early years. Skip late-night TV and get some rest.

7. Trust yourself. Be confident in your ability and let kids know that Mom and Dad really do know what's best. Being confident in yourself will increase your child's confidence.



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