They're the apple of your eye, your little angel, your baby love. So how can they turn into disobedient, petulant, inconsiderate or uninterested brats without warning?
"There's this view of letting children be free spirits, but there's also a growing need for advice on how to respond when they're having a tough time," advises Le Messurier, a teacher, counsellor and author of 'Parenting Tough Kids - Simple Proven Strategies for Success' (marklemessurier.com.au, $34.95). "If kids are doing it tough, then mum and dad are also doing it tough."
Sound familiar? Here are five tips to ease the pressure:
"By that I mean looking at what you're doing to develop a relationship with your child. Are you doing something alone with them? They need to be able to tell their mates or classmates the one special thing their dad does with them. That will give you leverage," says Le Messurier.
Le Messurier relates the case of a teenager who told his dad he didn't want to go hiking with him because it was out of mobile range and he'd have to eat awful food. The father persisted and the son later told his mates he had an awesome time.
So don't be guided by their initial reaction to your suggestion; do what you know they'll enjoy.
Don't demand instant reform either - it's rarely as neat as that.
"You have to let the wave pass, most often by removing yourself from the scene. When they've calmed down, you can talk about what sets them off, what changes you want and what you can do to help."
It's also worth developing a strategy for when they're angry.
"It might be having a shower, writing in an 'angry' journal, putting on headphones or punching a pillow. You've got to help kids buy time," observes Le Messurier.
Excerpt from Australian Men's Health Magazine, June 2009