How can you be a good parent?

There’s not just one right way to raise children. And there’s no such thing as a perfect parent--or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:

Show your love to your kid. Every day, tell your children that you love them. Give lots of hugs and kisses to them. Listen to what your children talk. Listening to your children tells them that you think they’re important and that you’re interested in what they have to say.

Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they’re scared. Show them you’ve taken steps to protect them. Provide order in their lives. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.

Praise your children. When your children learn something new or behave well, tell them you’re proud of them. Criticize the behavior, not the child. When your child makes a mistake, don’t say, "You were bad." Instead, explain what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without looking isn’t safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both ways for cars."

Be consistent. Your rules don’t have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If two parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby sitters and relatives know, and follow, your family rules.

Spend time with your children. Do things together, like reading, walking, playing and cleaning house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually their way of getting your attention.

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