The sense of humor is said to be one of the most important qualities in human being for the many benefits that it brings to one. With a good sense of humor, one can live healthier both physically and emotionally due to his or her optimistic attitude. It is also extremely helpful when it comes to networking and reinforcing relationships with the people around us.

You might think that the sense of humor is only important to the adults, but surprisingly, it is equally as important to your kids! Instilling kids’ humor early on in life will help them to take up challenges in life much easier as they grow up.

Kids’ humor can be observed in children as young as babies. If you are keen to explore on how to develop a sense of humor in your kids, check out the following article to find out how your kids can develop their sense of humor.

Via The Conversation | How children develop a sense of humour

Try a pun or some sarcasm on a toddler and you’re likely to draw a blank stare. Babies can be even harder to impress – ignoring your best clown impressions while laughing at some completely random event. Of course, children aren’t completely humorless. But what do they find funny at different ages and when can we expect them to get things like sarcasm and irony?

My two-year-old son has recently started grabbing my nose and pretending to throw it in the kitchen bin while laughing hysterically. It may not be a joke that I’m likely to try at my next dinner party, but it shows that his sense of humour is developing.

The main element needed for humour to evolve in children is socialisation. Children must understand that they are sharing an experience with another person before they can begin to establish a sense of humour. We typically do this by laughing and sharing reactions together – a process that effectively starts as soon as a newborn can engage in eye contact and smiling. The psychologist Lev Vygotsky believed that humorous social interactions of this type actually facilitates a child’s cognitive development.

However, a child needs to posses a few basic cognitive skills to communicate jokes in the first place (beyond just pulling a funny face). The most important ones are imagination, the ability to take a different perspective and language. Because these abilities tend to develop at different rates in different children – and continue to grow and change throughout adolescence and adulthood – there is no firm theory that can pinpoint specific, age-related stages of humor development.


Almost all types of humor involve a realization of incongruity between a concept and a situation. In other words, we laugh when things surprise us because they seem out of place. Take for example the following joke: “A horse walks into a bar and the barman says ‘why the long face’”? This is partly funny because horses don’t normally walk into bars. But the punchline “why the long face” is amusing because we first don’t get why the horse would be sad. We then suddenly realize that there are two meanings of the expression – horses also literally have long faces.

It may therefore seem that language is a prerequisite for humour. Infants without language and younger children with limited language typically enjoy physical humour, such as a game of peek-a-boo. But such simple jokes, involving less cognitive skills than language-based jokes, are also about incongruity realisation. Peek-a-boo has an element of surprise – someone suddenly appearing out of nowhere.

Indeed, many researchers argue that it is communication that is key – and that humour actually facilitates the process of learning a language.


Imagination plays a big part in spotting incongruity. It helps children place themselves somewhere different, to enact social roles that they normally wouldn’t, and even to pretend that their nose has come off of the body.

Imagination begins to appear in children around 12-18 months. Interestingly, this corresponds with the time when children are starting to copy parent’s jokes – making them more active in the production of their own brand of humor. Indeed, children as young as seven months can deliberately repeat any behaviors that elicit laughs, such as a funny face or a game of peek-a-boo.

A developing imagination is important for a child to eventually be able to produce their own jokes. This starts to happens by around two years of age, with jokes often being object-based, such as placing underwear on the head, or conceptual, such as claiming the “pig says moo”.

When making up their own jokes, children often draw inspiration from whatever they are learning about. Importantly, this helps them process social rules. For example, my son often jokes that his friend Lilly “pooped on the floor”. This is because potty training and excrement is at the forefront of his life right now. Joking about it is a good way to learn about the social rituals and emotions that go along with this process – particularly in dealing with accidents.

Perspective and deception

Another cognitive skill that helps children develop humor is an understanding of how the mind works. Knowing that different people can have access to different knowledge or mental states – and that some can have false beliefs or be deceived – is important. For example, when parents pretend to be oblivious to a child sneaking up to scare them, this is actually an example of a child understanding deception.

Indeed, some research has shown that this knowledge is crucial for children to understand more complicated jokes involving sarcasm and irony. One study showed that some children as young as three (but typically around five) are able to understand some forms of irony. In the experiment, children watched a puppet show and were asked questions about what they saw. An example of irony was when one puppet broke a plate and the other commented, “your mum will be very happy”. Some children could laugh and understand that this wasn’t literal and that the mum would in fact not be happy at all.

Other research argues that the understanding of irony develops through experience with humour itself rather than perspective taking or knowledge of deception. Joking is social and cultural, so a part of this process is having to learn through social interaction.

When children have developed a basic understanding of others and an imagination they can use their humour to explore possible and actual emotions. For example, by hurling invisible food around and yelling in glee, “I’m messy” a child can get a parent to act out a scenario in which they pretend to be angry. The joke enables them to explore anger safely.

So when it comes to children’s humor, we need to be patient. And thank goodness for that – those Disney and Pixar movies would be so much harder to sit through without the off-color jokes that go over the children’s heads. For now, we enjoy just stealing noses.

As parents, we want our girl to grow up gracefully with kindness and high self-esteem. We want them to be strong and inspiring, to be able to carry themselves well when we cannot be there to help them.

If you are a parent to a girl, you have most probably thought about the question “How to raise a daughter” for thousands, if not millions of times.

As we all know, raising a daughter is complicated, raising strong daughters is even more so. There are many aspects to be given attention to when it comes to raising a strong daughter, and one of it is to educate them about womanhood.

Check out this article now on the things you should teach to your daughter about true womanhood!

Via iMOM: 8 Things to Teach Your Daughter About True Womanhood

What is true womanhood and what do we need to teach our daughters about it? If there were ever questions with complicated answers–those two qualify. But before we talk about what we want to teach our daughters about true womanhood, let’s think about ourselves first, because our daughters will learn the most about what it means to be a woman from us. If we’re comfortable in our own skin, we can teach them how to be comfortable in theirs. If we find joy and purpose in being a woman, they will too.

Look at your own life. Think about what’s important to you, the lessons you’ve learned that you want to pass on to your daughter. Use our list as a starting point. Even if you don’t agree with everything on it, let it spur you on to consider what messages you’re sending your girl. Here are our 8 things to teach your daughter about true womanhood.

1. Be True to Who You Are

There is no one right way to be a woman. You are unique and there is no one on earth exactly like you.

2. Speak Your Mind

Your thoughts have value. Your opinions have value. Speak them freely. Choose to be with people who allow you to speak your mind—this goes for friends and boyfriends. If someone tries to shut you down or can’t carry on a conversation without habitually getting angry or disrespectful, distance yourself. Of course, you’ll want to wisely choose how you speak your mind too.

3. You Are More Than Your Body

Think about this: If we did not have bodies, what would society use to assess us? Our actions, our words, our attitude. That is who you are. A woman is not her hair color, her weight, or her skin color. And, since those things are mainly determined by genetic predisposition, why spend precious time wishing you were different or trying to change things that don’t need to be changed?

4. You Have Choices

In our world, you can pretty much go after anything you want. The restrictions on what’s “acceptable” for women to pursue are lessening every day. So feel free to think big. If you fail, so what? Learn from it and praise yourself for trying in the first place. Trying is better than regretting.

5. Being a Wife Can Be Amazing

Going through life with a husband who loves you, encourages you, and is there for you, will add an incredible dimension to your life. Having said that, experiencing that kind of relationship hinges on making a wise choice about who you will marry. Being a wife to a man who is volatile, immature, or demeaning is not what being married is about.

6. Being Single Can Be Amazing

While single, you have the luxury of completely controlling your own time. Choose to fill it with things that enrich your life. If you do want to marry, try not to see singlehood as a holding area.

7. Being a Mother Can Be Amazing

Motherhood imbues you with a kind of love like no other. It is a love that will bring you your greatest joy and your greatest heartache. It will also require a lot of work and sacrifice on your part. All the more reason to choose a husband who will support you as a mother, and father his children well.

8. Men Are Different

To understand true womanhood, we need to understand true manhood. Science has proven that men and women are different. So try to learn about the motivators that drive men and how they are physiologically different from women. This information will serve you well on the job, in marriage, and in parenting.

True womanhood? It’s truly amazing.

Tell us! What would you teach your daughter about true womanhood?

via ResearchGate: Children with harsh parents were more influenced by the opinion of their peers.

In a study that tracked 1,500 students beginning in seventh grade, researchers found that those who were parented harshly were more likely by ninth grade to place more importance on their peer group than other responsibilities, including obeying their parents’ rules. This meant they were more likely to engage in risky behaviors in eleventh grade, with males seeing greater delinquency like hitting and stealing, and females more frequent early sexual behavior.

We spoke to lead author Rochelle F Hentges about the study.

ResearchGate: What motivated this study?

Rochelle Hentges: We wanted to better understand how and why some children leave education early, either by dropping out of high school or not completing college. Prior research has indicated that children growing up in harsh or adverse environments are more likely to drop out. But we’re still not sure what it is about these environments that affect educational achievement. Evolutionary theories have suggested that, because harsh environments can make survival uncertain, individuals growing up in harsh environments are primed to try and capitalize on immediate rewards rather than focusing on long-term goals or outcomes. For example, research has found that children growing up in harsh or unstable environments are more likely to take a smaller, but immediate reward (two M&Ms) instead of waiting to get a larger reward (five M&Ms). Many of the messages that children get about why education is important are related to long-term goals, like getting into a good college or getting a better-paying job. I hypothesized, based on this evolutionary theory, that children growing up in environments with harsh parenting would be less likely to complete high school or go to college.

RG: What do you consider to be harsh parenting?

Hentges: In our study, harsh parenting was considered to be acts of verbal or physical aggression, such as yelling, name-calling, shoving, or threatening the child.

RG: What were the results of your study?

Hentges: We found that harsh parenting in seventh grade (around age 12-13) predicted an extreme peer orientation in eighth grade. An extreme peer orientation means that the child is more influenced by what their peers think or want instead of their parents. For example, they’re more likely to blow off doing homework if a friend calls and wants them to hang-out and they’re more likely to disobey parents’ rules if it means going along with what their friends want to do. This extreme peer orientation predicted higher delinquency for both boys and girls and early sexual behavior for girls in eleventh grade. For boys, higher delinquency predicted lower educational attainment at age 21, while for girls it was early sexual behavior that predicted lower educational attainment. When we ran our analyses, we controlled for prior standardized test scores, GPA, and students’ beliefs about how important school was to them. We also controlled for other potential contextual factors that might have influenced educational attainment, like race, family income, and the parents’ education level.

RG: How did you conduct the study?

Hentges: We used a pre-existing dataset from the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study that had collected information from close to 1,500 students beginning in seventh grade. The sample was collected in a large county in Maryland near Washington, D.C. and was diverse in terms of race, income, and geographical location (urban, rural, and suburban).

RG: How does the peer relationships of children with harsh parenting differ to those without?

Hentges: We used a continuous scale of harsh parenting that ranged from very little to a lot. We found that children who were exposed to higher levels of harsh parenting were more likely to say that it was okay to break their parents’ rules in order to keep their friends and that they spent more time on activities with friends instead of other things they should be doing, like homework or chores. So children with harsher parents may be more susceptible to peer pressure.

RG: What do you think schools can do to increase the engagement of these students?

Hentges: Something that is unique about evolutionary life history theory is that it tries to explain why children in harsh environments would focus on immediate rewards instead of long-term goals. If the future is uncertain, there is a certain adaptive value to capitalizing on what’s in front of you rather than putting a lot of resources toward something that might not pay off. So telling students that education is important for their long-term success may motivate children growing up in stable environments with warm, supportive parents. But for other children, this message may not mean as much because they’re focused on surviving and getting through their day-to-day life. One thing that schools may be able to do to increase engagement is to make education more rewarding and fulfilling in the short-term. For example, students often report that they enjoy working with and learning from peers and hands-on projects or experiences, like going to museums and zoos. Importantly, these sorts of classroom activities tend to decrease from elementary to high school. But if we can make school more enjoyable in the short-term, we may be able to keep students engaged in education for longer.

via Ideas.Ted : Moms and dads often feel like they can’t win. If they pay too much attention to their kids, they’re helicopter parents; too little, and they’re absentee parents. What’s the happy medium that will result in truly happy, self-sufficient kids? Here are five tips.

1. Give your kids things they can own and control.
“Enlist the children in their own upbringing. Research backs this up: children who plan their own goals, set weekly schedules and evaluate their own work build up their frontal cortex and take more control over their lives. We have to let our children succeed on their own terms, and yes, on occasion, fail on their own terms. I was talking to Warren Buffett’s banker, and he was chiding me for not letting my children make mistakes with their allowance. And I said, ‘But what if they drive into a ditch?’ He said, ‘It’s much better to drive into a ditch with a $6 allowance than a $60,000-a-year salary or a $6 million inheritance’.“

— Bruce Feiler, writer and author of The Secrets of Happy Families

2. Don’t worry about raising happy kids.
“In our desperate quest to create happy kids, we may be assuming the wrong moral burden. It strikes me as a better goal, and, dare I say, a more virtuous one, to focus on making productive kids and moral kids, and to simply hope that happiness will come to them by virtue of the good they do and the love that they feel from us. I think if we all did that, the kids would still be all right, and so would their parents — possibly in both cases even better.”

— Jennifer Senior, writer and author of All Joy and No Fun

3. Show your kids that you value who they are as people.

“Childhood needs to teach our kids how to love, and they can’t love others if they don’t first love themselves, and they won’t love themselves if we can’t offer them unconditional love. When our precious offspring come home from school or we come home from work, we need to close our technology, put away our phones, look them in the eye and let them see the joy that fills our faces when we see our child. Then, we have to say, ‘How was your day? What did you like about today?’ They need to know they matter to us as humans, not because of their GPA.”

— Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of How to Raise an Adult

4. Teach your kids to help out around the house — without being asked.

“We absolve our kids of doing the work of chores around the house, and then they end up as young adults in the workplace still waiting for a checklist, but it doesn’t exist. More importantly, they lack the impulse, the instinct to roll up their sleeves and pitch in and look around and wonder, How can I be useful to my colleagues? How can I anticipate a few steps ahead to what my boss might need?”

— Julie Lythcott-Haims

5. Remember that the little things matter.

“Quite small things that parents do are associated with good outcomes for children — talking and listening to a child, responding to them warmly, teaching them their letters and numbers, taking them on trips and visits. Reading to children every day seems to be really important, too. In one study, children whose parents were reading to them daily when they were five and then showing an interest in their education at the age of 10 were significantly less likely to be in poverty at the age of 30 than those whose parents weren’t doing those things.”

— Helen Pearson, science journalist and author of The Life Project

Via Mommy Moment: Tips for Raising Content Kids

When parents are asked what their one wish for their children is, many respond with the fact that they want their children to be happy.

We all want to be raising content kids. Parents want happy children. From the moment they are born our kids’ happiness becomes a top priority. That doesn’t change as they grow, however it can seem to get more difficult to navigate how to ensure their happiness.

Remember that having happy kids does not mean giving children everything they want. It does not mean giving in when they whine and beg. It does not mean having them kids signed up for that dance class or hockey program. Many parents fall into the trap of saying yes to their children because they do not want them to feel bad. Kids, just like us, will have disappointments in life and it is not our job as parents to “fix” their disappointment.

Happiness is about parenting the individual child. Every child is different and will not necessarily respond to parenting the same way. The Happy Kid Handbook explores the differences among introverts, extroverts, and everything in between. This guide to parenting offers parents the strategies they need to meet their child exactly where he or she needs to be met.

Sometimes our child’s emotions can get overlooked. Parents tend to focus more on how their children are behaving, rather than how they are feeling. Maintaining an awareness of your child’s emotional state and keeping in mind that emotions play a big part in their wellbeing, can help parents become far more involved with their children and educate themselves on ways to raise a happy and content child.

Tips For Raising Content Kids

Ensure Your Happiness

Children can feed off our emotions. If we as parents are unhappy or not content in life, it is more likely that our children will feel that and mirror our feelings. Surround yourself with positive people, laugh often and take time for yourself to boost your mood. Chances are you will see a difference in your child’s emotional state as well.

Do Not Expect Perfection

Learn to expect effort over perfection. As long as your child is putting in the effort to do their best, that’s all that matters. Expecting perfection puts a lot of stress onto a child and therefore causes irritation and lower self-confidence when they don’t perform perfectly. No one is perfect. Make it very clear to your child that effort is important but that you don’t expect perfection.

Give Responsibilities

Giving your child responsibilities can help to increase their self-confidence and make them feel valued. Delegate responsibilities to your child that are age appropriate and within their capabilities. This will help to make them feel as though they are contributing something positive and in turn, increase their happiness.

Teach Gratitude

Take time daily to focus on what each member of your family is grateful for. If you all sit at the table together to enjoy dinner every night as a family, go around the table and express one thing you are grateful for each night. Doing this can help to foster a positive attitude, contentment, and happiness.

Your child’s happiness can depend on many different factors and it is important that we as parents don’t put too much pressure on them and focus on fostering a positive attitude. Your child will be much happier for it.

“Good job!” “Say sorry.” “Share.” “Do you want a time out?” Do these sound familiar to you? If so, you have probably picked up the “Parentspeak” without yourself even noticing it.

We might have started the “Parentspeak” with a good intention but little do we realise what it does to our kids.

According to Jennifer Lehr from WSJ, “Parentspeak” demands of compliance from kids rather than helping parents with their understanding on their kids’ feelings.

Check out this video now to find how you can speak to understand your kids’ feelings instead of giving them parents’ instructions to comply to!

What is your parenting philosophy? If it is about raising a happy child, you might want to reconsider it after watching this video.

Dr. Shefali shared a surprising parenting myth: which is “parenting is about raising a happy child”.

Dr. Shefali said that life is not just about happiness. Life is to experience in every nuance as it presents itself in them as is.

As parents, it is our sacred obligation to not teach our children to run away from life as it is. Therefore, it is inevitable to teach rejection to our kids.

Do you agree? Comment your thoughts below now!

Mommy’s note:

Note to myself, to give more positive attention to my kids in order to promote positive behavior.

Your kids want attention all the time. How do you know if you are giving them the right amount of attention? How sure are you if you are giving them the right kind of attention?

In this video, Jason Kreidman explains the 3 types of attention in parenting psychology:

  1. The positive attention which is used to rewards our kids
  2. The negative attention when they misbehave
  3. No attention when we ignore them

The key is to cut down on the negative attention given to your kids. Giving kids positive attention will reinforce the positive behavior.

Watch this video now to learn how could you raise well-behaved kids using attention!

MAma speaks:

Personally, I feel it’s a balance between positive reinforcement and tough love. They need to know that their actions have consequences.

Via Moultrie News: Teacher to Parent – Positive reinforcement doesn’t work in the long run

Q. My third grade son recently came home in tears saying he didn’t want to go to school anymore because he was punished for talking during silent reading. The teacher kept him in from recess. I think this is horrible. It isn’t a teacher’s job to destroy a child’s love for school. Instead of constant punishment for every little infraction, what about using positive reinforcement?

A. He was in tears for having to miss recess? Ah, sweet innocence of youth. Let’s hope he never gets a really tough consequence. Or a boss. Or a job.

I don’t see what the teacher did as either horrible or tear-inducing. My advice would be to have a conversation with your third-grader on the topic of “coping skills.” Because if being kept out of recess has destroyed his love for school, I shudder to think what’s in store when he gets to algebra.

“Positive reinforcement” is a polarizing topic among teachers. Many of my elementary school colleagues tell me it works very well. I’ll take their word for it. But I’ll tell you something that doesn’t work in middle and high school: positive reinforcement.

I’m not saying it’s all bad, of course. Compliments and certain rewards are very good for the spirit. I’m talking specifically about the widespread use of extrinsic rewards as a means of instilling good conduct.

One problem is that the rewards for good behavior can’t keep pace with children’s changing desires. I remember in first grade being highly motivated to get a colorful little handmade award every week. Can you imagine that kind of thing being a serious inducement for a kid who just got 48 “likes” on his latest Instagram post?

At a certain point, all of our little trinkets, tchotchkes, gewgaws, kickshaws, and surcees just can’t match up to the thrill of clipping your friend in the back of the head with a stinger, socializing with the girl next to you during a history lecture, or chillin’ in the hallway while everyone else is in class. The “positive reward” would need some serious bank behind it to seduce eighth graders into glorious conformity en masse.

I had an education professor who once told the story of an old man who was annoyed by some teenagers who walked home every day by cutting through his yard and stomping on his grass. They ignored his yelling, so one day he decided to try positive reinforcement in reverse. He offered the kids a dollar for every day they walked across his lawn. The kids were happy to do it, especially since they had already been doing it anyway, and for a month, the man made good on his bargain. One day he suddenly stopped paying them and called the deal off. The kids became so disgusted that they refused to walk on his lawn ever again.

That’s what tends to happen to positive reinforcement when extrinsic rewards are removed. The behavior you want to maintain doesn’t always stick. It was tied to a reward. Now untethered, it’s free to do whatever it wants. If a kid was earning a candy hit for keeping his locker neat, it’s likely that his locker will go to rot as soon as the sugar train stops rolling.

And that leads us to a second problem: Schools shouldn’t prepare kids for a world that doesn’t exist. In real life, citizens aren’t rewarded extrinsically for being good citizens. You don’t get a bonus check for paying your taxes on time. Cops don’t pull you over and hand you a $50 gift certificate for going the speed limit. Nobody throws you a pizza party for not firebombing your neighbors.

In real life there are many things we do simply because they’re the right things to do. Does anyone remember the adage “Virtue is its own reward”? For our children’s benefit, we should bring it back into vogue.

As for the recess thing, it’s not that every school infraction deserves a punishment. It’s that children should learn that actions have consequences. Your son has learned that boys who read when it’s time to read have the freedom to go play at recess, and those who want to talk at the wrong time lose that freedom. That’s basically how it works in the real world, right?

Are there some people who don’t rob banks because they’re afraid of losing their freedom? Sure, and I’m okay with that. Ideally, though, people don’t rob banks because it’s the wrong thing to do. Most of us are probably in that category. Even if we knew we could “get away with it,” we still wouldn’t rob banks because it’s morally wrong. And that’s what we should be teaching our kids.

But do you know anyone who wouldn’t rob a bank solely because their name would be entered in a drawing for a free set of Beats by Dre? I don’t. But get ready because that may very well be the future if we don’t get back to the paired basics of teaching students that virtue is its own reward and that bad actions have bad consequences.

So if it were my child who came home crying that he hated school because he lost recess for talking during reading time, I’d firmly inform him that tomorrow he should stop talking and read. And if he hates school because they took away his recess, he’d better get ready to hate home, too, because if he disobeys the teacher again, there will be consequences here as well.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pay some kids to get on my lawn.

Via WebMD: 10 Commandments of Good Parenting

You know the checkout line scenario: 3-year-old child wants this toy, this candy, this something — and she wants it nooooow! The crying starts, escalating into a full-blown tantrum.

In his new book, The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting, Laurence Steinberg, PhD, provides guidelines based on the top social science research — some 75 years of studies. Follow them, and you can avert all sorts of child behavior problems, he says.

After all, what is the goal when you’re dealing with children? To show who’s boss? To instill fear? Or to help the child develop into a decent, self-confident human being?

Good parenting helps foster empathy, honesty, self-reliance, self-control, kindness, cooperation, and cheerfulness, says Steinberg. It also promotes intellectual curiosity, motivation, and desire to achieve. It helps protect children from developing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, anti-social behavior, and alcohol and drug abuse.

“Parenting is one of the most researched areas in the entire field of social science,” says Steinberg, who is a distinguished professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. The scientific evidence for the principles he outlines “is very, very consistent,” he tells WebMD.

Too many parents base their actions on gut reaction. But some parents have better instincts than others, Steinberg says. Children should never be hit — not even a slap on a toddler’s bottom, he tells WebMD. “If your young child is headed into danger, into traffic, you can grab him and hold him, but you should under no circumstances hit him.”

Ruby Natale PhD, PsyD, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Medical School, couldn’t agree more. She offered a few of her own insights. “Many people use the same tactics their own parents used, and a lot of times that meant using really harsh discipline,” she tells WebMD.
A parent’s relationship with his or her child will be reflected in the child’s actions — including child behavior problems, Natale explains. “If you don’t have a good relationship with your child, they’re not going to listen to you. Think how you relate to other adults. If you have a good relationship with them, you tend to trust them more, listen to their opinions, and agree with them. If it’s someone we just don’t like, we will ignore their opinion.”

Steinberg’s 10 principles hold true for anyone who deals with children — coach, teacher, babysitter, he says.

The 10 Principles of Good Parenting

1. What you do matters.

“This is one of the most important principles,” Steinberg tells WebMD. “What you do makes a difference. Your kids are watching you. Don’t just react on the spur of the moment. Ask yourself, ‘What do I want to accomplish, and is this likely to produce that result?'”

2. You cannot be too loving.

“It is simply not possible to spoil a child with love,” he writes. “What we often think of as the product of spoiling a child is never the result of showing a child too much love. It is usually the consequence of giving a child things in place of love — things like leniency, lowered expectations, or material possessions.”

3. Be involved in your child’s life.

“Being an involved parent takes time and is hard work, and it often means rethinking and rearranging your priorities. It frequently means sacrificing what you want to do for what your child needs to do. Be there mentally as well as physically.”

Being involved does not mean doing a child’s homework — or reading it over or correcting it. “Homework is a tool for teachers to know whether the child is learning or not,” Steinberg tells WebMD. “If you do the homework, you’re not letting the teacher know what the child is learning.”

4. Adapt your parenting to fit your child.

Keep pace with your child’s development. Your child is growing up. Consider how age is affecting the child’s behavior.

“The same drive for independence that is making your three-year-old say ‘no’ all the time is what’s motivating him to be toilet trained,” writes Steinberg. “The same intellectual growth spurt that is making your 13-year-old curious and inquisitive in the classroom also is making her argumentative at the dinner table.”

For example: An eighth grader is easily distracted, irritable. His grades in school are suffering. He’s argumentative. Should parents push him more, or should they be understanding so his self-esteem doesn’t suffer?

“With a 13-year-old, the problem could be a number of things,” Steinberg says. “He may be depressed. He could be getting too little sleep. Is he staying up too late? It could be he simply needs some help in structuring time to allow time for studying. He may have a learning problem. Pushing him to do better is not the answer. The problem needs to be diagnosed by a professional.”

5. Establish and set rules.

“If you don’t manage your child’s behavior when he is young, he will have a hard time learning how to manage himself when he is older and you aren’t around. Any time of the day or night, you should always be able to answer these three questions: Where is my child? Who is with my child? What is my child doing? The rules your child has learned from you are going to shape the rules he applies to himself.”

“But you can’t micromanage your child,” Steinberg tells WebMD. “Once they’re in middle school, you need let the child do their own homework, make their own choices, and not intervene.”

6. Foster your child’s independence.

“Setting limits helps your child develop a sense of self-control. Encouraging independence helps her develop a sense of self-direction. To be successful in life, she’s going to need both.”

It is normal for children to push for autonomy, says Steinberg. “Many parents mistakenly equate their child’s independence with rebelliousness or disobedience. Children push for independence because it is part of human nature to want to feel in control rather than to feel controlled by someone else.”

7. Be consistent.

“If your rules vary from day to day in an unpredictable fashion or if you enforce them only intermittently, your child’s misbehavior is your fault, not his. Your most important disciplinary tool is consistency. Identify your non-negotiables. The more your authority is based on wisdom and not on power, the less your child will challenge it.”

Many parents have problems being consistent, Steinberg tells WebMD. “When parents aren’t consistent, children get confused. You have to force yourself to be more consistent.”

8. Avoid harsh discipline.

Parents should never hit a child, under any circumstances. “Children who are spanked, hit, or slapped are more prone to fighting with other children,” he writes. “They are more likely to be bullies and more likely to use aggression to solve disputes with others.”

“There is a lot of evidence that spanking causes aggression in children, which can lead to relationship problems with other kids,” Steinberg tells WebMD. “There are many other ways to discipline a child, including ‘time out,’ which work better and do not involve aggression.”

9. Explain your rules and decisions.

“Good parents have expectations they want their child to live up to,” he writes. “Generally, parents overexplain to young children and underexplain to adolescents. What is obvious to you may not be evident to a 12-year-old. He doesn’t have the priorities, judgment or experience that you have.”

An example: A 6-year-old is very active and very smart — but blurts out answers in class, doesn’t give other kids a chance, and talks too much in class. His teacher needs to address the child behavior problem. He needs to talk to the child about it, says Steinberg. “Parents might want to meet with the teacher and develop a joint strategy. That child needs to learn to give other children a chance to answer questions.”

10. Treat your child with respect.

“The best way to get respectful treatment from your child is to treat him respectfully,” Steinberg writes. “You should give your child the same courtesies you would give to anyone else. Speak to him politely. Respect his opinion. Pay attention when he is speaking to you. Treat him kindly. Try to please him when you can. Children treat others the way their parents treat them. Your relationship with your child is the foundation for her relationships with others.”

For example, if your child is a picky eater: “I personally don’t think parents should make a big deal about eating,” Steinberg tells WebMD. “Children develop food preferences. They often go through them in stages. You don’t want turn mealtimes into unpleasant occasions. Just don’t make the mistake of substituting unhealthy foods. If you don’t keep junk food in the house, they won’t eat it.”

Likewise, the checkout line tantrum can be avoided, says Natale. “Children respond very well to structure. You can’t go shopping without preparing them for it. Tell them, ‘We will be there 45 minutes. Mommy needs to buy this. Show them the list. If you don’t prepare them, they will get bored, tired, upset by the crowds of people.”

“Parents forget to consider the child, to respect the child,” Natale tells WebMD. “You work on your relationships with other adults, your friendships, your marriage, dating. But what about your relationship with your child? If you have a good relationship, and you’re really in tune with your child, that’s what really matters. Then none of this will be an issue.”