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Taming Trouble: Discipline and Manners for Your Preschooler

7 tips for parents to help preschoolers master manners.
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No. 5: Model good behavior.

For teaching manners, it's important to model the behavior you want to see, says Jane Nelsen, EDD, author of the Positive Discipline book series.

Teach them without expecting results right away, like teaching language, she says. Don't get mad at them if they don't do it every time. By the time they're school age, they'll take hold like the way language does.

If a child has had modeling for apologizing, he may be able to come up with "saying sorry" on his own to make another child feel better in the right situation.

"It's so much more effective when it comes from them rather than telling them what they should do," she says.

No. 6: Give your child choices.

Get your children involved with family meetings to come up with solutions together. For example, you and your child can create a bedtime routine chart that includes teeth brushing, bath time, putting on pajamas, and storytime.

"Positive discipline is about helping children develop their thinking skills, social and life skills, and the belief that they're capable," Nelsen says. "You can't tell them they're capable. You have to let them experience it."

If it's bedtime and your child isn't responding to the routine, give him choices. You can say, "I know you don't want to brush your teeth but it's time to brush your teeth. Do you want to do it with me or by yourself?

No. 7: Know when to walk away.

Temper tantrums are a child's way of blowing off steam and communicating their frustration, Brown says.

If you respond to them, then you validate that behavior. Because the child learns that if he has a tantrum, then he'll get mom and dad's attention or what he wants. But if you ignore them, you will see them gradually subside.

And don't engage if you feel like your child is pushing your buttons.

"If you're feeling frustrated, walk away," Brown says. "You want to show your child that even when you're frustrated or upset, you can respond calmly. That speaks volumes for teaching them appropriate behaviors."

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Reviewed on October 05, 2010

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