Your 6 3/4-year-old: Pile on the praise

Your 6 3/4-year-old: Pile on the praise

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Your 6-year-old now

The simplest secret weapon you have in keeping life on an even keel with your child is praise. A few words about something your child did or is doing well can defuse a tense situation or head off a tantrum. Praise is also like money in the bank – each kind word or positive observation a deposit that builds up a store of goodwill in your child and actually makes him want to behave better for you. Kids have a deep desire to please their parents.

Try to make your praise specific. If you simply murmur "Nice job!" all day, those words become too vague to register. If you praise a particular act and describe it, that helps your child know what it was about his behavior that was good – and makes him more likely to turn in a fine performance. Compare "Good job" with "Thanks for stopping your play to give your sister her toy when she dropped it – that was really helpful to me."

Your life now

Looking for good birthday-gift ideas for your child's peers? Fortunately, kids this age are still pretty easy to please. A good rule of thumb is to buy something your child would like.

Feeding a collection is usually a hit, although duplicates are a risk. Kids this age also love to experiment and use their imaginations. Presents that inspire creativity are always good – think arts and crafts supplies, building blocks, or science kits.

One fresh take is a present that allows the birthday boy or girl to spend time with your child. Maybe you can give a certificate to go miniature golfing together or offer up a movie night. Or make small items seem like a big deal by presenting a basket of themed goodies, all wrapped individually – a sports kit might include Whiffle balls, baseball cards, and a baseball book, for example.

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