No parent wants to be a pushover, but when your child is acting up (especially in public), it's easy to give in. The problem is, once your child knows you can be manipulated, you are no longer in charge of discipline. The secret to a well-disciplined child, then, lies in the 3 C's: calmness, consistency and consequences.
CALMNESS: Why should you be calm? Young children focus on facial expressions, the tone of your voice and your body language. If they her anger or anxiety, they barely hear your words. They stop listening and feel scared or angry instead. So you need to state calmly and firmly what they are doing wrong. Yelling backfires because it distracts your child from the actual misbehavior.
CONSISTENCY: Rules are NOT made to be broken. If one day, it's OK to eat a snack in front of the TV and the next day it's forbidden, what child wouldn't be confused? Click here for more on why it's critical to set boundaries...and ways to stick to them.
CONSEQUENCES: A parent's job is to reward children when they obey the rules and punish them when they don't. The biggest mistake parents make is idle threats. Stick to reasonable consequences that are fair and immediate. You can add a task (like a chore) or take away a privilege (like TV). Don't bribe your child into behaving, but be sure to praise them when they do.
Think of it this way. Every time you cave in to your child's demands, you have made 10 times the work for yourself. Remember, kids are very motivated to please their parents. Stay calm and consistent and your child will follow suit.
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