The best advice a parent can receive when taking on the adventure of raising children is to "pick your battles". It's a cliche everyone's heard throughout your lifetime but one should pause and really examine this.

Those who've studied child development may have an edge on parents who took a leap of faith into the choice of parenting but one doesn't have to be educated in child rearing to gain the same knowledge. With a determined heart to provide the best environment for your child and an open heart to forgive yourself when you make inevitable mistakes, not only you but your children will survive.

Parenting does not have to be a battlefield although it may resemble one when you have toddlers underfoot. Maintaining a big picture approach will get you through another cliche "the days are long but the years are short". This is true as you find yourself spending each landmark of a birthday reminiscing about the previous year, milestones and accomplishments.

When they're toddlers, it is a parent's responsibility to keep them safe and sometimes the easiest way to keep them safe is a sharp, startling "no" as a toddler reaches for the electric socket with a metal fork. Certainly a "no" appropriately timed could prevent a child from serious harm or inflicting harm on a sibling. Yet as children develop and grow it is important to replace those simple "nos" with choices. According to, between age four and five a child is able to understand rules and is beginning to develop independence. This is the time to take the opportunity to expand their choices. In lieu of saying "no" you may opt to give alternatives in order to accomplish something they must do. Instead of saying "no we're not wearing that Spiderman tshirt to cousin Millie's baptism" say "would you like to wear the blue shirt or the white shirt that we bought for this special occasion last week?" Eliminating a power struggle with their fragile, developing egos and opinions can build confidence and self-esteem that will result in a confident middle schooler down the road. A good rule of thumb is to say yes as often as you can while you are setting the parameters.

When Charlie is a preteen you can make a list of family chores with boxes next to all that needs to be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly. Instead of demanding and nagging over chores that someone in your home must do, give him the power to contribute by choosing the chore that best suits him. This empowerment leaves you, the parent, with the option of not having to say "no you cannot go to that sleepover at your friend's this weekend" but instead can say "let's see how you manage your homework and your chores this week." It may take a few weeks to sink in and it most likely will be more difficult for you to allow your child to suffer the consequences of their choices, but this eliminates a battle and a power struggle. Teaching children in their youth, before life really gets challenging, gives them the self-esteem to know that their choices affect the outcome of their circumstances.

Dinner time is a good time to focus on the family and a great way to start a family conversation is to pose the question "What's the best thing that happened to you today?" Allow a little time for each child to share, comment and probe a little deeper with additional questions. Nothing makes a child feel more important than to be listened to. With all that life throws at you, make sure to take some time each day and let your child know they're heard; at the very least by you.

This is one of those articles that applies to parents of children on the autism spectrum as well as neurotypical children. The only exception is that children affected by ASDs need routine, structure and firm guidance. All in all, being a good parent and teaching your child valuable life lessons as young as they can developmentally comprehend them, leads to confident adults who will make good choices and thank you for saying "yes" as often as you could.

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Author's Bio: 

With 25 years of experience Julie brings a vast knowledge base in several industries and well-rounded business acumen. Early in her career a gift for public relations was discovered; she became a pageant title holder, model and spokesperson and cable tv show hostess. She founded a nationally recognized animal rescue. Her foresight when requesting non-profit status created sub-divisions of her corporation; a program to raise Pit Bull puppies as therapy dogs for children with autism; a program to place senior dogs with retired individuals at reduced adoption fees; an online auction site; a retail store that created a profit center to fund the non-profit activities. Co-authored Chapter 12 of "Small Businesses Give Big." Responsible for the collaboration and inception Shorty's Charities with Shorty Rossi. "A Dog A Day Campaign" has received accolades and national media attention. Mother to three children diagnosed with autism.