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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...

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."

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