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15 ways to be a (nearly) perfect parent

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We all want to do the best for our children and small changes can make a big difference to family life

1. Give them time

Even if it's a bad time for you. If your kids are asking for your attention, it's because they need it at the time they're asking for it. Children live in the present so pretend you've got all the time in the world for them. The washing up/ironing can wait for ten minutes.

2. Stick to a handful of basic rules

If you have too many rules, you'll always be fighting. Basic rules could include always tell the truth, be kind to other people and be safe - let us know where you are and don't talk to strangers.

3. Make them laugh

A tickle before bedtime, putting on a silly voice or telling them stories about when mummy or daddy were little always gets them grinning.

4. Don't do several things at once

It's impossible. You try to squeeze in a phone conversation whilst cooking their tea or trying to help them with their home-work. Everyone just ends up frazzled and nothing gets done properly. Children respond badly to pressure and you get stressed too.

5. Encourage them to say thank you

Writing a thank you note is a dying habit, but it's one that shows your kids are grateful for presents from friends and family. So give them black paper and a silver pen to write them on to make it a bit more interesting but insist they do it. If they're older, let them email if they prefer.

- More ways to be a (nearly perfect parent)

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