10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting – Part 3

daughter kissing momThe following is part three of 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting post based on Laurence Steinberg’s book with the same title. Here are principles five and six with their major concepts listed.

5.  Establish and set rules. “If you don’t manage your child’s behavior when he is young, he will have a hard time learning how to manage himself when he is older and you aren’t around. Any time of the day or night, you should always be able to answer these three questions: Where is my child? Who is with my child? What is my child doing? The rules your child has learned from you are going to shape the rules he applies to himself.”

  • All children need structure in their lives and the best way to do this is to establish clear rules and limits.
  • Make sure to establish rules that “make sense, that are appropriate to your child’s age, and that are flexible enough to change as your child matures.”
  • Be firm in making your children keep the rules that have been appropriately set.
  • When children disagree about the rules, the best option, when appropriate, is to come up with a new rule with your child that satisfies both of you.

6.  Foster your child’s independence. “Setting limits helps your child develop a sense of self-control. Encouraging independence helps her develop a sense of self-direction. To be successful in life, she’s going to need both. Accepting that it is normal for children to push for autonomy is absolutely key to effective parenting. Many parents mistakenly equate their child’s independence with rebelliousness or disobedience. Children push for independence because it is part of human nature to want to feel in control rather than to feel controlled by someone else.”

  • When allowing autonomy remember to pick the battles that really matter, limit your child’s options to ones that you approve of, praise the decisions your child makes, help your child think through decisions, and let them learn from their mistakes.
  • Toddlers and early adolescents go through stages where they argue about wanting more autonomy. To cope with this, it is best to allow them more autonomy, by following the guidelines above, to help them feel more independent.
  • Give your child psychological space; don’t “constantly hover” and undermine their sense of self-confidence.
  • When children request to do something out of the ordinary, keep this principle in mind, “protect when you must, but permit when you can.”

For more information see:


Steinberg, L. D. (2005). The ten basic principles of good parenting New York : Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2005, c2004; 1st Simon & Schuster Paperbacks ed.

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