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Health & Parenting

Top 10 Parenting Pitfalls

Experts offer advice that will help you raise a well-behaved child -- instead of a brat.
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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Parenting is no walk in the park, especially on the days when your little angel, whether he's 6 or 16, decides to act like a demon.

If it's the temper tantrum in the toy store over the latest video game, or the daily fight over math homework, or the food fight in a restaurant on Friday night, parents have a choice: To react in a way that will only make matters worse when the bell rings for round two, or respond like the calm, cool, and collected parents we see on TV shows like Nanny 911 -- after weeks of live-in, televised therapy.

What is the secret to their success, other than public humiliation?

"Overall, with any scenario, the worst thing a parent can do that helps bratty behavior blossom is to not set clear expectations and not have consequences to a child's behavior," says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills who specializes in family therapy.

Experts offer advice on the top 10 parenting pitfalls that will help you raise a well-behaved child -- instead of a brat.

The TV Toy

It's Saturday morning, you're doing laundry, the kids are watching their morning cartoons, and it happens: Your middle child sees the toy of his dreams on TV, starts in with the begging, and doesn't let up.

Brat-building response: "A lot of kids see things on TV -- games, food, or dolls -- and then they start nagging until they get it," says Berman. "If you run to the store to buy your child exactly what they want, then you've taught them that nagging is an effective tool for getting their way."

Angel-building response: "You can say, 'It's a cool toy. Let me find out how much it is, and I can help you save your allowance for it,'" says Berman. "You are teaching your child to work toward a goal --instead of giving in. It helps the child learn about goals, saving money, and it's a good response for both parent and child."

The Bribes

You're having your boss over for dinner on Friday night, and while you begged your sister to watch the kids for the evening, no such luck. Is it time to start bribing them to be quiet with expensive sneakers or the latest handbag from Dolce & Gabbana?

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