Being a parent is a tough job. What works today doesn’t always work tomorrow and what works for one child may not for another. So what is a parent to do? Moms from around the country have weighed in on some of their best suggestions.
1. Set clear expectations. Once you establish what behavior is unacceptable, then it’s time to set those guidelines.
2. Follow through with what you say. “No matter what, follow through and remember, you're the parent,” said Tracy F., Sheboygan, WI.
3. Be consistent – use the same punishment every time the child has a certain behavior – “every time you throw a toy you get a timeout;” “If you say something mean about your sister you will write five nice things about her;” and do that EVERY time. “Be consistent and strict with consequences, one warning is all they get and they know it,” said Michelle L., Detroit, MI.
4. Encourage positive behavior. This teaches children what TO do, rather than what not to do. “I have a done a point system for rewards and all the rewards were free and readily available, like a game with mom or camping in the living room with mom. Showing initiative gets them extra points,” said Angelia N., Howards Grove, WI.
5. Offer immediate rewards likes stickers, tokens or time on the computer/game system. “For example, if you do your homework without delay or complaining you earn 10 extra minutes on the computer or on your DS,” said Caryl D., Dix Hills, NY.
6. Turn your back and walk away. “Ignoring some of the minor annoying behaviors that children engage in to get their parents’ attention, like whining, nagging, pouting, tantruming, tattling, baby talk, etc. When parents choose NOT to respond to these behaviors, a child learns that these behaviors don’t work and they will engage in more positive behaviors to get their parents’ attention,” said Darlene J. Mech, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist.
7. Utilize time-outs. “It’s a wonderful tool for more serious misbehaviors. Helps a child learn self-control, provides an opportunity for problem-solving and seeking forgiveness, and allows the child to quickly get back on track and engage in positive behavior instead of negative,” said Mech.
8. Give a choice – you can have milk or water with dinner, which do you choose? You can buckle yourself in the seat or I can buckle you, which do you prefer? You can read now or after dinner. Controlled choices help your child feel like he/she has a say in daily activities. 9. If acting up, send them to bed early. “Early bed times. It bothers them, especially when the sibling gets to stay up,” said Kira P, Charleston, SC.
10. Remove rewards and privileges. “This is very effective if used appropriately. “It is more effective to take something away from a child for a short period of time so the child doesn’t lose the desire or motivation to earn that privilege or reward back. Parents often make the mistake of taking something away for a week or two or grounding a child for a month or more. This results in resentment, a parent having to keep track and not give in early and a child who will just learn to get along without the privilege,” said Mech.