Way to Blow It #8: Talk On... and On... and On
My husband, Patrick, tends to launch into long explanations with Ella, like how going to sleep is a good idea because she'll feel well rested for our upcoming busy day at Grandma's house. Tempting as it can be to try and reason with a young child, you might as well be speaking gibberish.
A Better Way: "Kids are not mini-adults," says Barnes. "Long explanations or instructions go right over their heads." Saying "No cookies before dinner" is enough to get the point across; you can skip the lecture about how sweets will spoil a tiny appetite. Keep your words age-appropriate, too. "I had one parent who was tired of always telling his son to stop whining," says Barnes. "Then one day his child finally asked, 'What's whining?'" It's okay to use a term like whining as long as you explain what you mean: "I can't understand you when you whine. Please use your big-boy voice."
Getting Back on Track
You gave a warning, then caved in. Or you yelled at your kid- for yelling at you. Below, how to fix your own bad behavior, from Nancy Schulman, coauthor of Practical Wisdom for Parents.
Get Over It "We all make mistakes," says Schulman. "Don't beat yourself up. Just say 'I know I said -- or did -- something I shouldn't have. Let's try to all follow these rules from now on.'"
Take it Slow Even if you feel like your discipline techniques need to be completely overhauled, pick two of your top issues and start there. Don't overwhelm your child with 20 new rules. "Sit down when he's calm and go over the rules so he knows what's expected of him," says Schulman.
Work Around It Let's say your child always has a tantrum over what to eat for breakfast. Rather than duke it out each morning, offer your child just two choices -- say, cereal or eggs -- so he can still feel in control.
Give it Time "It takes time to undo a pattern of bad behavior," notes Schulman. "If you start being consistent, they'll catch on. It may take ten or twenty times, but they'll get it."
Amanda May attempts to discipline her two kids, ages 2 and 4, at their home in New York's Hudson Valley.