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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 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.

Brat-building response: "If you just start yelling and screaming at her, it's not going to help," Kindlon tells WebMD. "And a major mistake most parents make is to give the child an ultimatum, like 'If you keep this up you're not going to watch TV when you get home.'"

But even though their tantrum continues ad nauseam, the TV goes on when the family gets home because the parent is beaten down.

"This teaches a child that the best way to get what they want is to behave like a brat," says Kindlon.

Angel-building response: "Plan ahead," says Kindlon "Bring snacks, games, and things to keep them entertained in the car. If that doesn't work, help them understand the consequences of their behavior. Again, with the ultimatum, if you use one, stick to it: 'If you don't stop behaving this way, you don't get to watch TV when you get home.'"

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