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Get to know your teenagers’ friends. The more you can connect with them and show them that you’re interested in them, the more likely they’ll try to connect with you.
Set clear, simple limits for young children. They are more likely to follow rules when they understand the rules, when adults are sensitive to their feelings, and when adults notice when they change their behavior for the better.
Teens will pressure you to loosen the reigns and give them more privileges. Think carefully about which rules you can loosen and which need to remain firm.
Notice when your children do the right thing. Tell them that you’re proud of them. Positive feedback gives young people information about which behaviors are appropriate and which are not.
Young teenagers are heavily influenced by their friends. They’ll claim that “they’ll die” if they don’t have a smart phone or some other gadget. Don’t be quick to give in—set standards for what you believe is best for your child.
Set a good example. Exercise with your kids. If that isn’t possible, model what you value by getting involved in some type of physical activity. Stick with it and talk about it.
Your kids may be quick to point out how your rules aren’t like other family’s rules. Be firm. Explain that your family is different. Emphasize how you want your kids to grow up well.
Create a toy exchange with other parents you know. Instead of buying all kinds of toys for your kids, have each family buy different toys. Then periodically swap them out. That way your kids will feel like they’re often getting new toys—without you having to buy them.
Learn the names of your neighbors when you’re outside or when your kids are playing outdoors.
Encourage kids to try different sports to see what interests them. Children can benefit from playing soccer or basketball, participating in gymnastics or martial arts, or doing other age-appropriate sports.
Use car pools when taking kids to activities and practices. Many organizations will let you create a car-pool list if you ask. (Or you can just create your own by talking with other parents.)
As children get older, have them help out with physical chores that give them some exercise. Starting around age 6, kids can help wash the car. Middle school kids can do yard work and shovel snow. High school teens can help move furniture and mow the lawn.
Listen to what your kids want—and why. Really listen. You may be able to help them get what they want by helping them set goals and take steps toward meeting their goals.
Support your teenager, but be careful that you don’t take over their homework, school projects, or household chores. Give them help but just enough to get them to do their part.
If your child discovers a friend in your neighborhood, take the time to get to know the family of your child’s friend.
Make activity fun! Go to the playground together. Follow your child through the playground equipment. If you don’t fit in the equipment, walk around so that you get some exercise while your child plays.
Cook together! Although cooking can be messy, kids often have a blast when they cook something with you that they’re really excited to eat.
Discover ways to have fun when your kids want you to do something over and over and over. After awhile, games can become stale to you—but still fun to your kids. Find a way to inject some fun into activities that become routine for you.
Focus on your overall parenting goal: raising successful, competent kids. You cannot do this if you’re never setting limits.
Encourage your kids to try different forms of physical activity. Exercise isn’t fun if it’s boring—or if it becomes a chore. Keep trying different types of exercise until your child finds something that interests her.