Operation Chill: What Moms Can Stop Worrying About

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Operation Chill: What Moms Can Stop Worrying About
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If you're like most moms, you find yourself being warned about more and more dangers to your kids every day. From predators on the Internet to genetically modified foods, it seems that peril lurks in every corner -- and it's enough to make the mellowest mother paranoid. The good news is, there are some things you absolutely don't need to worry about when raising children. Now isn't that refreshing?

Clean Plate Club?
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Clean Plate Club?

The conventional wisdom is that children should eat, eat, eat! They should especially clean their plates at dinnertime. However, if your kid is healthy -- and has no food issues or problems with being underweight -- experts say it’s actually better to let him self-regulate how much he eats. This knowledge will, hopefully, end many battles at tables across the nation and save a lot of stress on you and your child. The bottom line is: If he's not hungry, he's not going to starve overnight.

Don't Feel Play Date Pressure
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Don't Feel Play Date Pressure

Another bane of modern parenting is the "play date." When we were young, our parents didn't oversee our social lives, and we -- generally -- did just fine. Don't stress about planning umpteen play dates for your kids. They'll make friends; they'll adjust to school and if they want to have a friend over now and then, that's great. But there's absolutely no reason to plan so many outings per week in the hopes your kids will be more socially adept or accepted.

Avoid Grade Angst
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Avoid Grade Angst

Don't get hung up if your perfect child gets less-than-perfect grades on his first report card. The marking periods are relatively short and teachers may have a limited amount of information about your child with which to assess him. If he earns less-than-stellar grades, ask his teacher what you can do to support learning at home. Don't make a big deal about it with your child, and move on.

Have Fun Getting Dirty
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Have Fun Getting Dirty

Go ahead, let your kids get dirty while they're playing. This is why bath time was invented, and research actually hints that our kids might be getting sicker because of their antiseptic environments. When their immune systems don't have little battles to fight, they can sometimes go haywire, causing allergies. The bottom line is: Whatever doesn’t kill them really does make them stronger. And for little kids, especially, making messes helps them figure out the physics of the world. Moms needn't lose their minds over obsessive cleanliness.

One Night Without a Bath Is Fine
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One Night Without a Bath Is Fine

If your kid isn't absolutely filthy, there's no need to freak out if you skip a bath night once in awhile. Some children love taking nightly baths -- and it helps to relax them for sleep; with others, it's a constant battle. To be a sane parent with the emotional resources your children need, pick your battles. A mandatory bath when your child is not all that dirty is simply not worth it.

Dinnertime Rules Can Sometimes Be Broken
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Dinnertime Rules Can Sometimes Be Broken

The idea that dinner must follow very strict rules is a bit outmoded. Though it is obviously not ideal for everyday eating habits, sometimes it's OK to bend the rules and allow your child to have a treat before dinner. Think of it as flipping the dessert-is-always-last rule on its head. As long as your child eats her evening meal, a snack won't hurt her.

Like a Sailor
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Like a Sailor

Popular culture is filled with it -- everything from sitcoms to rap music has some language that we'd rather not have our kids hear. However, it's best to relax, knowing that your kids will inevitably hear some salty stuff. (Perhaps they'll even hear it from your lips -- nobody's perfect!) Acknowledge that there are "bad" words children shouldn't say. If you hear it together, identify it and move on. If your child is spouting off like a sailor, gently remind him that that that kind of language is not acceptable. Freaking out will only make curse words more alluring.

Pop Music Won't Ruin Your Kids
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Pop Music Won't Ruin Your Kids

Though the lyrics to songs like Rihanna's "S and M" and Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" may make you cringe, odds are your tweens love to sing along to these ditties. It's a safe bet they won't be focusing on the sexual message unless you overreact and ban them from listening. Remember, the forbidden is always more alluring.

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