Bring Out the Best in Your Child

A renowned child psychologist discusses effective discipline strategies and ways to shape your little one's behavior.

Best Child, p.1

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Research has shown that how things work out for children depends more on their relationship with their parents than anything else. Even daycare hours and quality are less important. So if you want your child to behave acceptably, you must stay emotionally close. If your child acts in-your-face and don't-carish, you must make sure he knows you still love him even when you don't love the way he behaves.

Children begin to build their self-image by seeing themselves reflected in the mirror of adults' reactions. They decide they're good people, or the opposite, on the basis of what you seem to think of them. Studies have shown that if adults treat particular children as if they were cooperative, kind, and intelligent (and today's fighting at the playground just an aberration), the kids will tend to live up to those expectations. But if adults treat children as aggressive, stupid, and tiresome, chances are they'll act accordingly.

Yet the typical pattern is that the worse children behave, the more adults disapprove. The more disapproved of children feel, the worse they behave. So if you're beginning to think your 2- or 4- or 6-year-old is getting out of hand, a vicious circle threatens and the sooner you can turn things around, the better. You may need to try a number of different approaches, such as the following:

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