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Independence Day: Four Ways to Let Go of Your Kids

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Lesson 2: Good Parenting Means Doing Less

We live in an era when parents are judged by how many fundraisers we chair, how involved we are with our kids' research projects, and how carefully we police MySpace pages. But all these well-intentioned actions have a downside: self-centered kids who have minimal problem-solving skills.

What's more, hyperparenting deprives kids of input from other adults. "When we trust coaches and teachers to be in charge, it tells kids, 'I know you'll do fine in the world without me,'" says Richard Bromfield, PhD, author of How to Unspoil Your Child Fast (Basil Books). Save the intense involvement for real problems. For the rest of the time, do you have to know every quiz score?

Take-home test: Imagine you've been abducted by aliens and that your child has to do everything for herself. Let her figure out how she'll get to the movies, find clean clothes, or start her science project. Ask her to schedule herself a dental appointment. Don't be surprised if she doesn't like it. Kids swing back and forth between neediness and independence. "That's okay," I say, when my son complains he can't find any clean socks in the chaos of the laundry room. "Growing up is messy."

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