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This is Part 2 and the conclusion of Parenting 101, an overview of the fundamentals of effective parenting. Last week's class dealt with such basics as having a more active relationship with your spouse than you have with your children, saying "No" more than "Yes," and the much overlooked fact that the discipline of a child is accomplished through the conveyance of proper leadership, not reward-ship or punishment-ship. Having built a strong foundation, we will now move into a set of specifics that are equally essential to raising a child who will be well-equipped to deal successfully with the realities of independence. After all, the purpose of raising a child is to get him or her out of your life and into a life of his/her own.
1.) Put yourself at the center of your child's attention, not the other way around. It is a simple matter to discipline a child who is paying attention to you and nigh-unto impossible to discipline a child who is not. In that regard, always keep in mind that the more attention you pay a child, the less attention the child will pay to you.
2.) Put your child into a meaningful role in your family, one that is defined in terms of responsibilities known as chores (remember them?). By the time your child is 4 years old, he should be contributing significant time and effort on a daily basis to the maintenance of the household. Your child's chores should not be assigned haphazardly, but should be established as a routine. In addition to picking up after himself and keeping his own living space clean and orderly, he should be working in "common areas" of the home, doing such things as dusting and vacuuming. You do tell people that your child is gifted, do you not? Without chores, a child is a mere consumer, on a perpetual entitlement program, and entitlements do not strengthen people or culture. Grow a strong child!
3.) Keep television and other electronic media out of your child's life until your child has learned to read well and is self-entertaining. The research is clear that electronic media shortens attention span, interferes with the development of certain critical thinking skills, and develops a dependency that leads to frequent complaints of boredom. Remember that an average of just two hours of "screen time" a day means your child is absorbing electronic stimulation to the tune of 730 hours a year. That's the equivalent of eighteen 40-hour work weeks! Think of the creativity that's being lost! Grow a child with a strong brain!
4.) From day one, keep clutter out of your child's life by keeping toys and other "stuff" at a minimum. Paradoxically, children who entertain themselves well (low-maintenance children) tend to have few toys. These children are also more grateful for and take better care of what they have. Grow an imaginative, creative child!
5.) Emphasize manners, not skills. Sixty years ago, most children came to overcrowded first grades not knowing their ABCs, yet at the end of the year were reading at a higher level than today's kids, most of whom are already reading in kindergarten. That happened because parents of sixty years ago taught proper behavior, not skills; therefore, teachers taught skills, not proper behavior. Grow a polite child!
6.) Love your child enough to do the first ten. Grow a happy child!
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.
Copyright 2008, John K. Rosemond
*About the Author: Rosemond has written nine best-selling parenting books and is one of America's busiest and most popular speakers, known for his sound advice, humor and easy, relaxed, engaging style. In the past few years, John has appeared on numerous national television programs including 20/20, Good Morning America, The View, Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect, Public Eye, The Today Show, CNN, and CBS Later Today.