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Good Parenting Means 'Pick Your Battles.'

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Child psychologists, pediatricians, and just plain old experienced parents, all have the same message for those just beginning the long, long journey of parenthood -- “Pick Your Battles.”

What does this mean, exactly?

It means, among other things, that children and their parents are going to face many conflicts over many years. A child starts out life in a very insecure and needy position, depending on parents for everything. As children grow older they naturally want to spread their wings and show their independence and to experiment. Along the way parents are expected to be their guides, examples, and nurturers . So far, so good. The trouble comes when children disobey or disregard parents, or when they act . . . well, when they act like kids. The wise parent will decide well ahead of time which activities and behavior can be tolerated, and which cannot. Once that decision is made, it becomes easier to work with children in maintaining a minimum of decorum and sanity amidst the normal chaos of raising children.

Another way of putting it is that not every problem needs to be World War Two. When parents behave in a consistent manner over conflicts in the home, their children quickly get a sense of stability and predictability -- they know what will cause a simple irritated shrug, and what will cause a major eruption. And most children, in their own self interest, will act accordingly.

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