I recently received an email from a dad who has taken one of my early childhood parenting classes.

He asked if I had a list of things that parents of younger children should know “not to get hung up on.” I surveyed a number of my friends with older kids and got so much great advice! Here is part one of what they had to say:

Ann, mother of 3 kids, ages 14, 12, and 9 wrote:
Don’t get hung up on making special meals for your kids; serve them only what you eat; don’t get stuck in the “my kid only eats mac and cheese” disaster.

Don’t feel guilty about not signing up for all the activities there are for young kids these days; my only caveat is that it’s good to start early with music because it’s hard to fit it into your schedule later on if it’s not already there.

Don’t get hung up on buying new toys all the time to keep your kid occupied; it’s better to keep fewer toys out so it’s not so overwhelming, and to recycle.

Do read to your child and don’t get hung up on having your child read before kindergarten; kids learn how to read at all different times and earlier is not necessarily better; enjoying reading is more important than learning how to read early.

Do insist on respect and kindness.

Stressless: parents often teach best by modeling good behavior rather than directly teaching it.

Beth, mother of 3 kids, ages 20, 16, and 10 wrote:
I think it’s important to be informed as a parent and balance all the literature and advice with a sense of what works for you as a mother. Don’t try to make your children happy, be happy first. Share your interests with your children. If they take to one of them, you’ll have something to share together for the rest of your life. Remember that children age, mature and become adults and that you are doing a good job to help them become contributing members of society. They’ll spend 60 years as adults….20 as children… even though a temper tantrum can feel like it’s lasting 60 years in a grocery store. 🙂

Freddie, father of 4 wrote:
Don’t get hung up on insisting that a kid wear a coat because you think you’d be cold without one.

Bedtime flexes with the events of the day. The chance to be out doing something interesting trumps a rigid bedtime. You might pay a price the next day, but eventually, they’ll catch up on sleep.

Remember that kids tend to balance their diets over the course of a week – not a day. But… if you want your kid to like fruits and vegetables, they have to live on them for the first couple of years.