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Diane Lang, psychotherapist and nationally known speaker on mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs, whose website is www.dlcounseling.com, says being a parent is the hardest job in the world.

“I have heard that from every parent, including my own,” she says. “Parenting is a learned trait; be patient with yourself and set realistic expectations about parenting. It’s OK to make mistakes. Your kids also learn a lot of their personality traits from you. One of the best ways to be a positive parent is by being a great role model. Make sure to live your best life so your children can follow suit.”

Here are five other tips from Lang to become a “positive parent” and encourage a strong sense of self in your child:

1. Play is an important part of a child’s life. As adults we need to appreciate the importance of play. Play helps foster creativity, problem-solving, socialization, helps children develop their gross and fine motor skills and much more.

2. When talking to a child, make sure to have eye contact and touch. Maintain open lines of communication with your child. This will help keep the communication going when they hit adolescence.

3. Developmental milestones are generalizations. Each child develops at his or her own pace and each child develops differently. Don’t set yourself and your child up for failure by having unrealistic expectations about developing. Have your child play with toys that will help develop fine motor skills such as: dice, spinning tops, marbles, dominoes, puzzles and stringing beads. Also any activities that involve using crayons, scissors, Play-Doh, painting or tracing. Engage your child in extended conversations. Have your child tell you stories and describe events, and sing you songs. Ask your children lots of questions and let them be creative in answering them. Have your child read out loud. Read stories to your child out loud. After the story, ask questions about the characters in the story. Set up a writing center with a variety of colored pens, papers, pencils, crayons and markers.

4. Learn to give positive commands instead of negatives. Each positive command will also include an action so it gives your child direction. An example: “You always leave your shoes in the hall and I trip over them,” is negative. Say, “Please put your shoes in the closest.”

5. Active and Empathic listening. It’s important to always be a good listener. We teach kids through our actions, so if you want your child to listen then you must be the role model and listen well. Active listening includes: summarizing what you heard, no interruptions, taking a few seconds to think about what you’re going to say and asking questions. Empathic listening is just as important. Here, you must imagine putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. This gives you the opportunity to imagine how the other person is feeling. This will stop a lot of misunderstandings and disagreements.