Every mom and dad has a huge, very basic question that he or she might feel embarrassed to ask out loud. It's "how can I be a good parent?"
The American Academy of Family Physicians has answered this question on its Web site with a concise set of guidelines:
* Show your love. Hug and kiss your kids, and tell them you love them every day.
* Listen when your children talk. It helps them realize you think they're important.
* Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they're scared, and 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.
* Be consistent. If two parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Make sure other caregivers know and follow your family rules.
* Spend time with your children. Do things together, such as reading, walking, playing and cleaning house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior, the site notes, is usually an attempt to get your attention.