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The Art and Science of Parenting

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While parenting is often viewed as an art form, there is a certain amount of science behind the art. Understanding the biological development of children can make identifying with children and parenting them much easier. It is also reassuring to know that what your children are experiencing is perfectly natural and, in most cases, expected as part of development.

Normal Child Development

From birth through the teen years, most parents struggle with the tough decisions of parenting. Each stage brings a new set of challenges that parents must confront.

Welcoming a new baby into the family is a huge adjustment for everyone and one that is fraught with anxiety as parents get to know their unique baby and make the right decisions for their growing family. Less than a year later, the toddler's blossoming independence often leads to power struggles, tantrums, and even safety issues. Parents grapple with sleep, toilet training, separation anxiety and discipline issues throughout their children's toddler and preschool years. As children begin school, a new set of challenges emerges related to learning, peers, and school behavior. Before parents know it, they're dealing with the preteen issues of "sass talk," cell phones, and drastic hormonal changes. Finally, the infamous high school years arrive, when keeping kids safe and close sometimes seems impossible. Of course, in this overview we are focusing on the challenges. Mixed in with all of these difficult parenting obstacles are the rewarding moments that make parenting the most fulfilling job there is.

Parenting

Whatever the age of your child, parenting can be tough. There is no single plan that can guide us through all the trials of parenting. However, thousands of studies over the past four decades show us exactly what kids need to turn out great: love combined with high but age-appropriate expectations. Parenting may be hard, but it's not that complicated. From tantrums to texting, the secret of happy parenting is a close relationship with your child.

Did You Know

The more frequently kids eat dinner with their families, the better they do in school and the less likely they are to become sexually active, suffer depression, get involved with drugs or alcohol, or consider suicide.

Parenting effectively always depends on our connection to our kids. Without that connection, we have little influence ("My kids won't listen to me!") and, frankly, parenting becomes an exhausting, thankless task. Deepening our connection with our kids and keeping it strong as they grow is the real work of parenting. This is not to be confused with being "friends" with our children; they have friends—they need strong parents. Kids always need our guidance, but that only sticks if the connection is there to support our teaching.

As our infants grow into toddlers and start to require limits, how do we maintain a strong connection while setting those limits? Can we keep the connection solid as our child starts daycare or preschool? As our kids move into the school years and out into the world, how do we stay connected so we can enforce high expectations? And as our kids evolve into teenagers (when we get fired as the boss), how can we make sure we have a good enough connection with them so that we can at least get rehired as consultants? Welcome to the work of parenting. The parent-child relationship, like a marriage, is an important relationship that requires hard work. The benefits of the work will be evident as your children grow and your influence on them steers them toward success and good choices.

Holding on While Letting Go

Raising children requires endless effort and energy, and it can seem at times like a futile job. But there is help, and you can strengthen your relationship and feel confident that the choices you make as a parent are the best for everyone.

MyExpertSolution is here to help you with the information, tools, and confidence you need to cope with the challenges of each stage of your child's development. We can help you build the positive, loving relationships that lead to happy, healthy children—now and in years to come.

MyExpertSolution and You

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With MyExpertSolution, you are not alone! Your membership makes you part of the extensive MyExpertSolution community. You can browse the questions asked by other members about parenting and read the Expert responses. (Of course everyone's identity always remains protected.) Enjoy access to the complete audio library and library of Expert articles, and get up to a 25% member discount on MES products.

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