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The Best Discipline Tactics: A Quiz

It's an all-too-common scenario: You're trying to get dinner ready, do a load of laundry, and help your older child with her homework when you realize your preschooler's breaking the no-food-in-the-living-room rule. You remind him to eat at the kitchen table, but he ignores you, and you let it go  -- distracted by dinner, a phone call, and (feel free to fill in any examples from your life). You're too busy to handle a meltdown now. When it comes to setting up  -- and enforcing  -- rules, most of us make mistakes. What would you do if:

...he won't stay in bed?
1) Your 3-year-old happily participates in a ritual of bedtime story, toothbrushing, and a good-night kiss. But he comes into your room nightly after he's tucked in. You decide to:
A: Let him sleep in your room on comforters on the floor. At least this way, everyone gets some rest.
B: Keep returning him to his bed night after endless night.
C: Give him a consequence: If he gets out of bed, he won't go to the park the next day.

...she threatens a public tantrum?
2) You're at the toy store buying a birthday present for your child's friend, and your 4-year-old begs for a stuffed panda on the shelf. You tell her you won't buy it because it's too expensive. Her whining escalates. You sense a tantrum approaching. You:
A: Don't give in, but buy her a less expensive toy while you're in the checkout line.
B: Point out that she already has an alpine-size mountain of stuffed animals in her room, so you won't buy it. As she keeps pleading, you continue to explain so she understands.
C: Tell her no, state your reasons, and then refuse to engage in any more talk about it.

...he won't clean his room?
3)You tell your 5-year-old to clean his room, but when you return a half hour later he's playing with his Legos and nothing's been touched. Annoyed, you:
A: Work alongside him and help put away the toys and books.
B: Ask him again, but be more specific with your instructions.
C: Tell him he can't play with his toys for two days if he won't clean them up.

...she won't stop watching TV?
4)Your child refuses to turn off the tube and get dressed, which means she'll be late for preschool again. Out of frustration, you tell her that she won't be allowed to watch TV for an entire week as a result. On the fourth day, she begs to watch just one show. You:
A: Relent, because you realize a weeklong ban is excessive. You explain that you spoke out of anger that day.
B: Stick to your guns and tell her she can't watch TV for another three days.
C: Tell her that for every time she asks to watch TV, you'll extend the ban by another day.

...he won't buckle up?
5)You're in a hurry to pull out of the driveway in the morning, but your 2-year-old balks at having to sit in his car seat. You:
A: Tell him he doesn't have a choice, then firmly buckle him in.
B: Explain why it's important for him to sit in the car seat, so he understands why it's a rule.
C: Offer to play whatever tape he wants while you're driving if he'll sit quietly.

...she hits another child?
6)You're chatting with other moms at the playground when your child swats another youngster as they fight over a toy. You:
A: Have her say she's sorry.
B: Remove her immediately so she understands hitting is wrong.
C: Take away the toy and tell her not to hit.

...he doesn't want to go home?
7)It's time to leave the park, but your preschooler's happily ensconced in the sandbox. You sit down next to him and say:
A: "It's time to put your shoes on because we're leaving."
B: "Will you please put your shoes on and go to the car?"
C: "If you don't get into the car right now, I'm leaving!"

...she interrupts your conversations?
8)You're talking to a friend and your child consistently butts in to ask for a glass of water or for help finding a toy. You:
A: Permit the interruptions, so long as she says, "Excuse me."
B: Listen to her requests so you can determine whether they can wait. If so, you ask her to be patient until you're done talking.
C: Tell her to wait until you've finished speaking.

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As a mom of six, Rosemary Black never lacks for chances to improve her discipline strategies