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Editor’s note: We missed number 7 in the sequence of the 10 Best Parenting Ideas so we are posting it here to complete the full series as our Christmas and New Year’s present to all of the fellow parents on You are welcome to read through all 10 ideas here.

This is the seventh idea in a series of 10 where the Eyres are sharing the ten best and most practical and useable parenting ideas they have come across during their three decades of writing to and speaking with parents worldwide. The ideas are not in any particular order, but each represents a simple, practical “best practice” that can be implemented in any family. Most of them center on a “prop” or physical object that symbolizes the idea and makes it real and memorable.

There is one method we suggest to parents almost every time we speak. It is a mental method actually — a method for marshaling other methods, a method that is a direct manifestation of specific concerns for each individual child — a parenting method that also strengthens marriages – a method that has placed itself at the center of our marriage and our family for decades.

We call it a “5 Facet Review” and it works like this: Once a month (it’s best if there is a set day, like the first Tuesday or the second Friday) go on a “date” with your spouse if you are a two-parent family or with someone else who really knows and loves your children if you are a single parent. Go to dinner in a relatively quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed, and have only one item on your agenda — your children.

Structure your discussion around the five facets of each of your children, one at a time: How is Josh doing physically? How is he doing mentally? How is he doing socially? How is he doing emotionally? How is he doing spiritually?

As you ask each other these questions, they will lead to a powerfully proactive discussion. Probe and dig deep. On the physical question, think through everything from his health to his physical gifts or abilities. On the mental question, discuss not only how he is doing in school but how his brain works, how he processes information, what he is good at and what he is not. On the social question, get into friends, shyness, social aptitude and politeness. On the emotional question talk about moods, signs of depression, temper, and so on. And on the spiritual question discuss where his heart is and how secure he is in his beliefs.

Look for potential problems, but also for aptitudes and gifts and talents that need to be developed.

Brainstorm! As you get into this kind of discussion, something one of you says will spark a further thought in the other, and you will really be able to develop fresh and valuable insights about each of your children.

As you brainstorm, take notes. When you recognize a challenge or a need (or an opportunity), decide how to deal with it and who will handle it. It works best to have a special notebook or journal that you bring with you each time you have your monthly 5-facet review. As you start each session, read back through your notes from last month and check whether you followed through and decide which things from your notes still need your attention.

You will finish your review each month with a clearer picture of each child and a more specific commitment to him and a more sharply focused love for him or her. This exercise, rigorously followed, will yield more insight and more behavioral effect than anything you could read in a parenting book. Each child is unique and you, the parents, are the only ones that can become an expert on that particular child. Answers and ideas will come in this time dedicated to analyzing and thinking about these children you love.

And the bonus will be a strengthening of your marriage. Nothing is better for a relationship than working together on a project or an objective that you both value and love. Teaming up mentally in this kind of a 5-facet review of your children will draw you closer to each other and create a certain emotional synergy that is good for any marriage.

Thanks for reading, and anytime you wish you can review all of the parenting ideas that made this top 10 list. Thanks for joining us in our common quest for better, more effective, more loving parenting.

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