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Discipline Tip # 3: Neutralize Arguments

How do you deal with a child who wants to argue into submission? Steer clear of no-win arguments.

Instead, "go brain dead," advises Jim Fay, co-author of Parenting with Love and Logic. For instance, if your child says, "This isn’t fair," say, "I know." If your child says, "All of my friends get to have this," say, "I know." Or you can use the phrase, "And what did I say?" to enforce rules you have already discussed with your child. Sometimes the less you say, the more clear your point becomes.

Discipline Tip # 4: Buy Yourself Time

You may have read that children need to experience the consequences of their actions as soon as possible. And maybe you’ve heard that parents should be calm as they discipline children. In reality, you may not be able keep your cool and react right away.

"Buy yourself time to calm down before you deal with the situation," suggests Fay. You can tell your child, "Wow, bad decision. I need some time to figure out what I’m going to do about that." When your emotions are in check, express empathy for your child first, then deliver the consequences. Empathy gives your child room to connect his behavior to the outcome. "You don’t have to get angry at kids, you don’t have to yell. Just allow it to become their problem," says Fay.

Discipline Tip # 5: Be Consistent About Rules

Sometimes sticking to the rules is as challenging for parents as it is for kids. Sears sees too many parents turn the other cheek when their kids talk back or otherwise act out. "Parents just are not consistent in enforcing rules," he tells WebMD. Not enforcing your own rules puts everything you say into question. "If kids don’t know what to expect from their parents, they never really know what the rules are."

You may want to back down for fear of ruining your child’s fun. Keep in mind that kids benefit from limits. Rules and structure give children the security of knowing their parents are watching out for them. As kids get older, you can take a more flexible approach. Around the ages of 9 and 12, kids should get "a little leeway to test out the rules," says Brody. "But always be very careful about safety."

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