8 Ways to Be a Better Parent

7. Trust Your Gut

Your intentions are good. In an effort to make the best choices for your child, you read up on how to impose just the right nap schedule, adhere to the appropriate amount of television viewing, and calibrate the best nutritional balance of protein, fats, and carbs. Trying to get it all right can be exhausting, and you're sometimes plagued with guilt that you haven't lived up to these standards. Sound familiar? The truth is, there are a lot of experts out there -- and far too much advice, some of it conflicting. "No one knows your child better than you do," says Gurian, who encourages parents to trust their own instincts.

For example, do you sense intuitively that a baby music class will be difficult for your 10-month-old son, who wails when forced to sit still for even short periods? Then skip it. Ditto the reading-readiness software program that while loved by the neighbor's 3-year-old is not a hit with your own. "Your child may not enjoy instruction at the age of 3. She may get frustrated and turned off. Your gut may be telling you that she'd get more out of doing something else with her time: playing, for example," says Gurian, who encourages parents to avoid the trap of opting for too much too soon out of an anxiety that their children will "fall behind." And, good news: There's a benefit for you, too, in taking this approach. "When parents reclaim control over the decision-making process, they feel liberated," Gurian adds. "They knew what to do; it was in their gut somewhere."

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