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Top 10 Parenting Pitfalls

Experts offer advice that will help you raise a well-behaved child -- instead of a brat.

The Sleepover

Her bags are packed and she's ready to go to the sleepover, except for one thing: She forgot to ask for your permission.

Brat-building behavior: Even though she's screaming bloody murder, if you let her get away with it once, she'll do it again, and again and again. "You've taught your child that screaming long enough will get her what she wants, and now you've created your own private hell," Berman tells WebMD.

Angel-building behavior: "As a parent, it is always considerate and helpful to let a child know your thinking, so your child knows why you don't want her to go to the sleepover, so it doesn't seem like you are being unreasonable," says Berman. "But if you shared your reasoning, and she keeps yelling, you have to stand your ground."

The Divide and Conquer

You've been very clear and given your son a decisive NO when he asked, "Can I go to the birthday party, puh-lease?" His tactic? To ask dad.

Brat-building behavior: "When a child gets 'no' from mom, and 'yes' from dad, it teaches them they can divide and conquer," says Berman. "They learn that they can divide their parents and fool them, and if they are manipulative enough, they can get what they want."

Angel-building behavior: "Enforce in advance," says Berman. "Tell a child that if you ask mom and get 'no,' and then you ask dad and get 'yes,' the 'no' still stands, and your punishment for asking us both is xyz."

The Screaming in the Store

We've all seen it: The screaming child in the toy store. He wants the latest video game, and he's not shutting up until he has it.

Brat-building response: "If you give in, you teach your child that when he acts like a brat he can get what he wants," says Dan Kindlon, author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age. "You're reinforcing his bratty behavior."

Angel-building response: "There are two ways to approach it," says Kindlon, who teaches child psychology at Harvard University.

First, plan ahead, and second, plan a response.

"Make a deal with them beforehand -- you are going to buy them something and it's only going to cost $5," says Kindlon. "Or tell them, 'I'm going shopping for your cousin and this is not for you.' Give them structure beforehand so they're not caught off guard. Then, if they still explode in the store, ignore them, say you are not going to listen anymore. Then you leave the store and take them with you."

The Car Ride

You have 300 miles in front of you when your youngest explodes in a temper tantrum that rivals the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

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