Here’s the latest science to help you be a better parent:

  • First: Make your kids laugh. According to the Economic and Social Research Council, joking with your kids helps them think faster on their feet. It also helps them manage stress, be more creative, and make new friends.

  • Also: Be positive. Research shows that kids whose parents frequently express positive emotions are much less likely to wind up being aggressive and anti-social, as compared to those whose parents constantly let fly with negativity.

  • Another parenting tip: Let them go. When psychologist Neil Montgomery surveyed college freshmen, he found that those who had interfering, "helicopter" parents were more likely to be anxious, timid, and self-conscious. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should cut off their allowance and change the locks when your kid turns 18, but you should definitely resist the urge to call their English Lit professor and argue about the grade they gave your child.

  • The last tip is good news for parents of teens: Don't worry about backtalk. Child psychologist Dr. Joseph Allen says teens practice standing up for themselves by sassing their parents. It may get on your last nerve, but Dr. Allen’s research shows that kids who occasionally talk back are better at resisting peer pressure than those who don’t, because they’re more comfortable standing up for themselves.