The three most important words in real estate may be "Location, location, location!" but in parenting they are "Patience, patience, patience!" Patience is like toilet paper; you're always running out of it, but because you're the parent, you are expected to keep some in reserve.

How to perform this amazing feat? Parenting books are full of encouragement and offer welcome reassurance that you're not alone out there. Besides, when your grandchildren are born, you can pass on the highlighted, underlined, question-marked, dog-eared, coffee and tear-stained remnants to the new parents.

Any of the following new books would make a great start for your collection.

How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will, Too! by Sal Severe, Ph.

D. (Viking, $23.95, 272 pages, ISBN 0670031089) makes it clear that good parenting begins with self-control. Forget the saying, "Do as I say, not as I do," because whether we like it or not, a parent is a child's most influential teacher and role model and preschoolers are avid students. Of course, no one is a perfect parent person all the time. Sal Severe advocates being honest with our kids and ourselves when our behavior has been less than stellar. "It is always better for you and your child," he writes, "if you admit your mistake and take responsibility for your own behavior." From your example, the child will learn that the best way to handle mistakes is by admitting them, apologizing and trying to do better the next time. Chapters cover topics such as "How Motivation Affects Behavior," "Alternatives to Spanking," "Preschool Fears" and "How to Choose a Preschool." Emily Post's The Gift of Good Manners: A Parent's Guide to Raising Respectful, Kind, Considerate Children by Peggy Post and Cindy Post Senning, Ed.

D., (HarperResource, $24.95, 400 pages, ISBN 006018549X) tackles teaching the rules of etiquette from the time children are toddlers through their teenage years. Good manners are an extension of good behavior and are indeed a gift; well-mannered children are more apt to be welcome visitors and guests wherever they go, thereby increasing their level of sociability and hence their range of experiences and opportunities as they mature. Still, the incentive for practicing good manners shouldn't just be the results achieved for the child. Whether it is making eye contact, sharing toys or writing thank-you notes, the authors contend "manners express in action the values we hold dear" and should be an outgrowth of "the higher values of respect for others, integrity, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and honesty." The Secure Child: Helping Children Feel Safe and Confident in a Changing World by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. (Perseus, $20, 160 pages, ISBN 0738207500) is a timely book not only for parents, but for educators and others who worked with children. The events of September 11 have made it all too clear that we live in an unpredictable world. This book outlines numerous ways to help children grow to adulthood with confidence and faith in their ability to solve problems. "Security," Greenspan writes, "resides in advancing one's ability to resolve difficult situations." He offers both short-term strategies for difficult times (spend time together as a family, help children express their feelings, contribute to others in need) and long-term goals for preparing children to face an uncertain world. Greenspan's prescription is not an easy fix; it involves establishing secure relationships for children and broadening their knowledge and understanding of people around the world. Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by JoAnn Deak, Ph.

D. (Hyperion, $23.95, 320 pages, ISBN 078686768X) deals with overcoming the obstacles particular to girls as they struggle with body image, self-esteem, intellectual and physical growth and other issues while getting mixed messages from contemporary culture. Having raised a daughter, not to mention being female myself, I wish I had had this book by my side over the years. Two of my favorite chapters were "Aiming to Please: Moving Beyond the Tyranny of Niceness" and "Girls in Action: The Magic of Doing," but underlying every chapter is the same theme: the importance of fostering what Deak calls "the three C's of self-esteem in girls:" competence, confidence and connectedness. The goal being that girls will not only feel good about themselves, but also be able to take action from positions of strength. Unhappy Teenagers: A Way for Parents and Teachers to Reach Them by William Glasser, M.D. (HarperCollins, $24.95, 198 pages, ISBN 0060007982). The best time to read a book about dealing with teenagers is well before your child actually becomes one not that you still won't be taken by surprise, but surprise is better than total shock. So even if your children are still young, this is a good book to have on hand. If you are already in the "I've tried everything" stage, however, and your store of patience is running low, it's not too late to grab this book and benefit from it. Glasser offers a different approach to reaching teens than the typical methods of grounding or taking away privileges. "Get rid of your use of external control" he advises, and "replace it with choice theory." He uses real-life examples to illustrate choice theory in action and to help parents who are at once frustrated, angry and heart-sick re-establish communication with their troubled teens. Glasser also deserves kudos for his courageous remarks about breaking with traditional teaching methods in order to reach all students It's NOT That Complicated: The Twelve Rules for Raising Happy, Self-Reliant Children by Doug Peine. This title probably already has you halfway out the door headed to the nearest bookstore a simple guide? Only 12 rules? For once, something too good to be true actually measures up. At less than a dollar a rule, with lots of wonderful insights into human nature thrown in, this little gem is a must-have at a bargain price. The rules are simple but time-tested: never hold grudges, don't fight in front of your children and read to your child every night. A word of caution however: "not complicated" doesn't mean "easy." Parenting is hard work. While the major principles are easily understood, "putting them into practice is where most people fail," says Peine. "To parent well," he cautions, "requires time and effort. Parenting cannot be accomplished in absentia. You must be there in person, and you must be there a lot." So much for hiding in the bathroom. Briefly noted Parenting Principles: From the Heart of a Pediatrician by William T. Slonecker, M.D. (Fredricksburg, $19.95, 213 pages, ISBN 0967039908) shares a Christian perspective on parenting from a pediatrician who practiced for 43 years. Slonecker urges parents to balance love and authority, using firm discipline to set boundaries for the child. Though based on theology, the book has many practical suggestions as well, on topics ranging from potty training to conflicts with grandparents. Three tips for parents: 1. Get plenty of rest. (Which admittedly will be next to impossible when your children are young.) 2. Drink plenty of fluids. (Frequent trips to the bathroom may be your only means of escape.) 3. Keep plenty of parenting books on hand. (They are full of sound advice and will give you something to read while hiding in the bathroom.)

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