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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 Car Ride continued...

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.'"

The Lack of Respect

Your kid just called you a name, or talked back, or showed you some all-around lack of what Aretha Franklin likes to call R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Brat-building response: "If you sink to their level and use the same language back at them, you're modeling bad behavior," says Kindlon. "You're teaching them the wrong way to deal with something and someone when you're upset."

Angel-building response: "Dock a kid fifty cents on their allowance when they use a tone of voice or an inappropriate word you don't like," says Kindlon. "Maintain your cool. Show mature behavior, and give them consequences for their bad behavior."

The Restaurant

You just sat down to dinner with your husband and three kids at a local restaurant when the outbursts start.

Brat-building behavior: "What happens is there is talk of punishment and threats at the restaurant, like 'I'm going to take way your play date on Sunday,' or 'No TV for a week,'" says Paul Donahue, PhD, director of Child Development Associates in Scarsdale, N.Y. "Punishments don't work as well as a rewards, or the threats are idle because the kid knows that the parent won't take away their TV."

Angel-building response: "Before you get to the restaurant, tell your child what you expect in terms of behavior," says Donahue. "If your behavior is good, here is what privilege will come your way, whether its dessert at the restaurant, or that they get to watch a movie when they get home."

Kids need to understand that their privileges are based on their behavior, explains Donahue.

"While I'm not suggesting you bribe your kids or take them to Toys 'R' Us because they sit at the dinner table, they need to understand that the things they enjoy are privileges and they can have those things if they behave well," says Donahue. "Kids have to have an understanding that good behavior is expected, and if they behave well, good things will come their way."

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