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10 Commandments of Good Parenting

Does your child have behavior problems? Your relationship with your child likely needs some attention.

The 10 Principles of Good Parenting continued...

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."

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