1. Stop narrating play Narrating your toddler’s every playground move like he’s in a wildlife documentary is a North American phenomenon, according Bringing Up Bébé author Pamela Druckerman, who parented in France. Don’t get between your kids and their experience of the world.
2. Drop the “we” It’s actually their peewee cup game, not yours. Check your ego, and let them own their success—and failure, says Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult.
3. Give them chores… Even a two-year-old can put his cup in the dishwasher, and a 10-year-old can cook dinner. Chores breed self-mastery and responsibility.
4. …And don’t pay them Tying chores to compensation is a mistake, writes Ron Lieber in The Opposite of Spoiled. “They ought to do them for the same reason we do—because the chores need to be done.”
5. Don’t do their homework “It’s a short-term gain that sends the message: ‘Hey, you’re not capable of doing this,’” says Lythcott-Haims.
6. Let kids figure things out When school-aged kids gorge on Halloween candy, for instance, they learn too many sweets will make them feel ill faster than if you play gatekeeper. Such “non-catastrophic failures” are key to developing resilient adults, says Alex Russell, author of Drop the Worry Ball.
7. Have your own life Little eyes see you move through the day, anxious and nagging, shuttling kids between activities. Living a well-rounded life that doesn’t always have kids at the centre damps their narcissism and models a healthy adulthood.
A version of this article appeared in our February 2016 issue with the headline “Are we the worst generation of parents?”, p. 70.
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