Perfect Parenting: The Dictionary of 1000 Parenting Tips


Your go-to guide for your parenting questions, from the author of the breakthrough No-Cry series

"Perfect Parenting will give you the tools you need to feel confident as you raise your children. This handy reference book may become an indispensable part of your family's ...

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Perfect Parenting: The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips: The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips

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Your go-to guide for your parenting questions, from the author of the breakthrough No-Cry series

"Perfect Parenting will give you the tools you need to feel confident as you raise your children. This handy reference book may become an indispensable part of your family's life."
— from the foreword by William Sears, M.D.

Perfect Parenting is parenting with a plan. It is based on:

  • action, not reaction
  • thoughtfulness, not anger
  • knowledge, not chance
  • common sense, not nonsense
This A-Z guide of practical ideas will inspire you to find the right answers for the many discipline and behavior issues you face every day. Inside you will find many options and methods that can help you be thoughtful in your approach to raising your children.

You'll learn what to do about back talk, dawdling, interrupting, stubbornness, whining. You'll find ways to get your kids to do the chores, stop ignoring you, and clean up their own messes. You'll even learn what to do about other people's children! Elizabeth Pantley designed a questionnaire addressing discipline problems and sent it to hundreds of parents. Their answers shaped this book to make it the most useful, practical book on discipline available today.

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Editorial Reviews

Kathy Lyn
Perfect Parenting is THE dictionary for parents. No longer will parents need to thumb through all their books and magazines for answers to common questions. Parents will particularly appreciate the range of possible solutions. The author clearly understands that there is no right answer to any problem. I predict that Perfect Parenting will be the best-thumbed book in all parent's libraries. -- Parenting Today Vancouver, British Columbia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809228478
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Series: Pantley Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 704,491
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Pantley publishes the newsletter Parent Tips, read by thousands of parents nationwide, and is regularly quoted in magazines including Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Parenting, Woman's Day, Working Mother, and American Baby.

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Read an Excerpt


Situation: My child gripes and complains whenever he's asked to do something. He does what he's told, but he sure lets me know how unhappy he is with the situation.

Think about it: Learning to do the things we must, even when we don't want to, is a process of maturity. (And even the most mature among us are heard to utter a complaint now and then!) Understanding how to voice our opinions in a proper and respectful way is a learned skill.

  • Restate the complaint in the way you want to hear it. If a child says, "Yuck! I hate this green stuff!" You respond, "What I'd like to hear you say is, 'Dad, I don't care for spinach.'"
  • Let your child know you are going to ignore complaining - and do just that. When you ask your child to do something and he responds with a complaint, just repeat your request and walk out of the room.
  • Use the broken record technique. Continue to repeat your request in a bland, unemotional way. Your child will tire of hearing it and get the message that you're not going to give up.
  • Tell your child what you want to hear. "Snidely, I'll be happy to listen to you when you use a normal voice and give more thought to your comments." Then end the discussion.
  • After the child has voiced his complaint respond by saying, "Okay, I've heard your problem. What do you think are some possible solutions?" Do not ask in an angry, sarcastic way, but to encourage your child to think of ways to solve his own problem.
  • Make sure you're not modeling complaining behavior with such comments as, "Why can't you put your stuff away? I'm the only one who does anything around here. You kids never clean up after yourselves. . . ." (Incidentally, all this is usually said as a monologue as the parent walks through the house picking up after the kids! This behavior clearly demonstrates complaining at its best.)


Situation: My husband and I haven't finished a complete sentence since last July! Our children interrupt our conversations constantly. Even while I'm asking them to wait until we're done talking they're busy interrupting my request!

Think about it: Many parents admonish kids for interrupting, but in the same breath respond to the child's interrupted request! Interrupting is habit forming. Like many annoying behaviors, once kids figure out that they can "get away with it," the behavior will continue.

  • Teach your child how to determine if something warrants an interruption. Children often are so focused on their own needs that they don't really absorb the fact that they're being rude. Teach your child to wait for a pause in the conversation and to say, "Excuse me." When she does this, respond positively. If the interruption is of a nature that it can and should wait, politely inform your child of this and then continue talking.
  • Tell your child that if she wants something when you are talking to another adult, she should walk up to you and gently squeeze your arm. You will then squeeze her hand to indicate that you know she is there and will be with her in a minute. At first, respond rather quickly so your child can see the success of this method. Over time you can wait longer, just give a gentle squeeze every few minutes to remind your child that you remember the request.
  • Pause, look your child in the eye, and say, "I'll be with you in a minute." Then turn your face, body and attention away from your child. Do not engage your child with repeated pleas for her to stop. If your child continues to interrupt, motion to the person you're talking with to walk away with you.
  • Praise your child for using good manners, remembering to say "excuse me," and for interrupting only for a valid reason.

Listening, not

Situation: My kid doesn't listen to me! I have to repeat myself over and over. Even then he doesn't do what I've asked. When I remind him, he looks at me with that befuddled look that says, "Huh? You were talking to ME?"

Think about it: Sounds like your child has what is commonly known as "Selective Hearing." (In other words, you can shout at him to take out the trash, and it's as if he has cotton in his ears, but if you whisper that you'll take him out for ice cream, his hearing becomes incredibly sharp!) The good news is that this malady is easily cured when you use the following solutions.

  • When you make a request, be certain you have your child's attention by touching his arm or hand, and making eye contact. Make a clear, simple statement. As an example, do not call from three rooms away, "Time to go!" A better choice is to go to your child, look him eyeball to eyeball and make a very specific request, "Fester, please put on your shoes and coat and get in the car."
  • If your child doesn't respond to your request, ask that he repeat back to you what you said, "Fester, what is it I want you to do?" Once the child has repeated your request, you know that he's heard you, (and he knows that you know that he heard you) and he's more likely to follow through.
  • Make sure you are not encouraging the behavior by nagging or making requests that you don't follow through on. If you typically repeat yourself three or four or twelve times before you take action, your child will learn that he can ignore you the first few times, because all he'll suffer is having to listen to the drone of your voice.
  • Keep your requests brief and to the point. As an example, say you want your child to get ready for bed. Don't launch into a ten-minute lecture on the value of sleep, the importance of getting up on time, the fact that Tuesday is a school night, and why you are sick-and-tired-of-going-through-this-every-night, etc. Limit yourself to a few important words, such as, "Nine o'clock. Bedtime."
  • Use action instead of words. Instead of complaining about the pile of dirty socks in the family room, simply pick them up and hand them to your child. Kids are remarkably perceptive when handed a wad of dirty laundry. Note: Have a doctor check your child's hearing to be sure there is not a physical problem preventing your child from hearing to you.
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Table of Contents


Anger, child's/parent's


Arguing, with parent

Athletic lessons/practice, not wanting to continue, poor sport

Baby-sitters, grandparents as, not listening to, not wanting one, siblings as

Baby talk


Bath, not behaving in, not wanting one, won't get out

Bathroom jokes

Bedrooms, cleaning, privacy between siblings (separate rooms/shared room

Bedtime, getting to bed peacefully, staying in bed


Bicycle, care of, doesn't ride safely, won't wear helmet

Birthday, bad behavior as birthday child, bad behavior, your child as guest, bad behavior, other children as guests, party planning

Biting, child to adult, child to child





Breakfast, won't eat

Breaking things during carelessness

Bully, your child is acting like a, your child is victim of

Cabin fever

Car, fighting in the back seat, seatbelt or car seat refusal, who gets to sit in front


Carpool, bad behavior

Cheating, at games, at schoolwork

Chores, complains about, how to get them done, money and sloppy or slow work, suggested list


Clothing, carelessness about, chewing of, choice of, dawdling while dressing, frequent changing of, won't dress self





Cooperate, won't


Dark, fear of


Daycare, cries when left at, dropping off / picking up, misbehavior at

Diaper, doesn't want changed


Doesn't come when called

Eating, disorders, out with children, overeating, picky eater,

Fears, of imaginary things, of real things, of natural disasters, of violent situations

Fighting, with friends, physical

Fighting, with friends, verbal


Friends, doesn't have any, eating all your food, inappropriate choice of, sleep overs

Gifts, rude response to, thank you notes



Grandparents, and spoiling, buy the kids too much stuff, disagreements with

Habits, bad

Hair brushing


Hair pulling, of others, of self

Hate, expressions of

Hitting, child to adult, child to child

Home alone, when is a child ready to be

Home alone, child is

Homework, how to create a routine, not getting it done, perfectionism, sloppy or rushed work

Humor, inappropriate


Junk food excesses

Laziness, at home, at school

Listening, not



Manners, at home, at mealtime, in public




Medication, taking

Mess, kid's constant



Morning chaos

Moving, child is depressed after, planning in advance

Music lessons, when to start them, not wanting to continue, not wanting to practice


Nail biting or picking

Name calling

Nap, won't take one


Night terrors

Noise, excessive

Nose picking


Nudity, adult's around children, during child's play

Other peoples children, friends, neighbors, relatives

Parties, bad behavior at, doesn't want to go


Pet care

Privacy, of children, of parents


Promises, doesn't keep

Public behavior, defiance, leaving peacefully

Read, doesn't want to

Respect, teaching


Rude comments, intentional, unintentional

School, behavior problems at, bus behavior, not wanting to go, teacher, doesn't like

Self esteem, low

Selfish behavior

Separation anxiety

Sexuality, inappropriate behavior with friends, inappropriate personal behavior



Shyness, around adults, around children

Siblings, bickering, borrowing things without permission, fairness, fighting - physical fighting - verbal, hateful emotions, hitting of new baby, jealousy, name calling, new baby


Sports, reluctance to play





Tantrums, public



Telephone interruptions

Television, watches too much

Toilet Training

Tooth brushing

Trips, airplane, boat, bus, train, car, short, car, long, children alone on, cruise

Vacations, misbehavior during, preparing for good behavior, rainy day ideas

Vegetables, won't eat them

Video games, excessive use of

Wandering in public places



Work, doesn't want parent to

Yelling and screaming

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Must-Have Resource for Parents

    Perfect Parenting is an easy-to-use resource to help parents deal with every possible parenting issue they may encounter. The "Contents" section at the beginning of the book lists the issues alphabetically and gives the page number where the solution can be found. This is very convenient for parents who just don't have time to read an entire book. Under each issue, there is a paragraph that describes the situation. Then there's a "Think about it" section which gives parents a "kid point of view" to help them understand why kids might be misbehaving. Then there is a "Solutions" section that lists three to seven ideas on how to deal with the issue. Readers familiar with Ms. Pantley's book, Kid Cooperation, will recognize many of the solutions from that book. The nice thing is that there are a good variety of solutions to fit a variety of parenting personalities. Ms. Pantley is careful to note when issues may require professional help. These comments are notated with a bold exclamation point. Perfect Parenting is a must have resource for all parents. As a parent of two children, I find myself referring to it quite a bit. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2002

    Perfect for busy parents

    I love the easy-to-use alphabetical arrangement of this book. I'm too busy to read tons of books, but when I have a problem I just look it up in this one. It covers all the issues a parent faces from the common: Whining, Backtalk, Fighting, Chores, Listening, Interrupting, etc. It also covers less common but oh-so-annoying issues like: Vegetables (won't eat them), Medication (won't take it), Nail-biting, Nose-picking, Poor sport, etc. A very handy book to keep around for all those daily issues. A great companion is the author's other book: Kid Cooperation which gives overall parenting ideas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2002


    A wise, witty, wonderful book filled with tips for those very bad days when you're just about at your wits' end with the kids. Just about everything you can think of is addressed in this book for parents of tots-teens. My only criticism is that I think it is hard to cover some subjects like lying, bad words, the gimmees, fears, and anger-pertaining to BOTH 3-year-olds as well as teenagers all in one book. I have recently found another great A-Z book with tips that work for very young children. 'The Pocket Parent' is a quick read trouble-shooting guide that has been written exclusively for the preschool years (2- to 5-year-olds). Since I have many issues with my 3-year-old twins, I found more age appropriate advice on some topics in 'The Pocket Parent'. I think both books are a must for restoring your sanity on the spot. Both books are filled with compassion and humor which helped me know for sure that I'm not a failure as a mom nor the only parent that ocassionally has a really bad day. Thanks have obviously 'been there, done that' along with us! In my book, that makes you a truly credible expert!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2001

    Fantastic! A 'must have'!

    Have you ever wished that your child came with an instruction book? Perfect Parenting: The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips might be just what you have been looking for! This book consists of suggestions on how to deal with all those situations that are sent to try your patience and all those issues which no-one seems to know how to handle. This book¿s format is perfect for the busy parent. In alphabetical order and cross-referenced, you will find suggestions on how to cope with everything from allowances to yelling and screaming. Examples include: bath, not wanting one; nightmares; siblings, jealousy; and the ever-worrying TANTRUMS. For each problem, the situation is described and then parents are challenged to ¿think about it¿ before being given several possible solutions. The suggestions offered are wonderfully helpful and insightful. There is a wealth of fantastic advice here! As always, Elizabeth Pantley manages to give advice that WORKS, is EASY, and is RESPECTFUL of children. Whether you are a new parent or an old hand, you are bound to benefit from her words of wisdom. What is particularly perfect about Perfect Parenting is that it is a ¿one-stop-shop¿ for a whole gamut of problems, many of which are simply not broached in any other book. In the one book, almost every conceivable parental concern is covered. This is a book which you definitely want to keep in a prominent position on the bookshelf, as you are going to want to refer to it again and again!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2000

    Ideas about absolutely everything!

    I refer to this book constantly. There are great ideas for every issue I face with my kids. (Check out the table of contents!) I'm too busy to read tons of books to find ideas about how to solve problems with my kids, so this book really works. I don't have to wade through excess information, I just look up the day's problem and get quick, practical solutions. I've used it to solve: back talk, the kids not doing their chores, getting them to do their homework, stopping the bickering, stopping the whining, and lots of others. It's worth the price and more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2000

    Wonderful Parenting 'Dictionary'

    I love this book! Just about anything you could think of in dealing with children's behavior is in this book, in a 'dictionary' type format. You can look things up like 'Lying', 'Hitting', 'Disrespectful', 'Inappropriate Humor', 'Not Sharing', you name it, and it's there!!! Under each topic, she lists a section to 'think about' the motives of the child, and then she gives you at least 5 or 6 different things you might do to correct the problem behavior. I could not believe how many different things were listed in this book. The reference in the front was great too. VERY EASY to use, this is not a 'chapter book'. It's more of a reference book, but I can hardly put it down! I already read Elizabeth's other book 'Kid Cooperation', and I highly recommend it as well . . . All I can say is 'buy the book, you'll be glad you did'!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2000

    A Perfect Resource for Parents!

    There is so much helpful, good advice in here! The list of topics is extensive & detailed. And I really like the author's approach to helping us understand a child's behavior before trying to solve a problem. If you need some ideas on how to solve any of the typical challenges that come up in parenting, look in PERFECT PARENTING!

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