Parenting Guru: 5 steps to a happier child (and a happier mom, too!)

Ways to disarm temper tantrums

Don't these kids look happy? Don't they look like so much fun? Doesn't it seem like they must always be in good moods?

Don't let them fool you.

Behind these smiling faces lie wills of steel. As parents, my husband and I are all too familiar with the public meltdown. By now, we should be experts at disarming a nuclear tantrum.

While the kids still manage to evade our tactics occasionally, these are a few tips and tricks we've learned in our ten years of parenting to get happier, more agreeable children.

1) Get on eye-level. We are tall people. To our kids we look like giants. If we can do something as simple as getting down to their eye-level, we show that we are willing to listen to and understand what they have to say.

2) Insist on respect. Our kids are quick to yell and whine at us. Before they can tell us what they want from us, they need to make sure have an appropriate tone of voice. If they cannot talk to us nicely, then they may not talk to us until they are ready.

3) Practice reflective listening. When our kids are willing to speak to us nicely, we can show them that we have heard and understood what they think when we repeat their concerns or requests back to them. Once they know that we have heard their point of view, hopefully they are more ready for us to…

4) Give a respectful and reasonable response. We acknowledge their concerns or requests, but we may have reasons for denying those requests. If we treat them with the respect we require of them, we are not only a model for them, we open the door for them to hear us and respond in a reasonable and respectful manner.

What about you? What are your tips for avoiding meltdowns?

Melanie writes about her crazy life with four kids at her personal blog, tales from the crib .