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The 7 Secrets of Successful Parents

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As her parent, you're the first one to convince a child of her worth and help her venture into the world with confidence. You can make her feel cherished by giving her your time and attention daily, whether by reading a book, playing, or talking together. For instance, try to spend a little one-on-one time with your child when you get home, before you do anything else. After picking her toddler up at daycare, one mom I know uses the walk home as a way to reconnect. If she runs into friends, she'll wave at them but won't stop to chat; she's learned that it frustrates her daughter too much.

Show your child that you value her by acknowledging her feelings, and by listening when she talks. It's easy to let your mind wander as a toddler or preschooler babbles on, but kids are very good at picking up on when you're distracted. Having a focused conversation with your child—rather than just responding with the occasional "Uh-huh"—builds up her vocabulary at the same time that it boosts her self-esteem.

The way you encourage your child is also important. By emphasizing her efforts ("You sure seemed to enjoy working on this picture for Grandma") over her results ("I like the way you stayed inside the lines this time"), you'll show support and foster self-approval, and make her less reliant on the acceptance of others.

And finally, the best way to encourage your child? Simply tell her that you love her as often as you can.