Discipline Dos and Don'ts

Are you overwhelmed dealing with your child's temper tantrums? Do you want to achieve peace in your household, but you're not sure if the situation can change?

Don't fall prey to the belief that you just have an oppositional child and there's no changing his or her behavior. The following parenting advice from Dr. Phil and educational consultant Dr. Michele Borba can help transform a chaotic house into a peaceful one:

Give Simple Directions
When you want your child to obey, such as putting away his or her toys or going to bed, don't negotiate, says Dr. Michele Borba. "There are no choices," she says. Instead, you could say to your child, "I need you to put your toys away." "I need you to go to bed." Dr. Borba says, "There are no threats, and there is no, 'Would you like to?'"

Praise Your Child for Good Behavior
Catch your child behaving well and then praise him or her. "The fastest way to change behavior is to point out what you want your child to do, and then reinforce it the moment they do it," Dr. Borba says. Dr. Phil adds, "What you've got to do is say, 'You are being such a good little girl. You are watching TV so quietly,' or 'You're playing so nice. I'm so proud of you. Thank you."

Remember the Three Bs
Dr. Borba says that when putting your child down for the night, these three rituals can be helpful: brushing teeth, reading a book to calm her or him and then it's bedtime. You have to change the behavior so you can rebuild the harmony in the family. Dr. Phil says make sure not to transition too fast from playtime to bedtime. "You don't go take a child off the top of the jungle gym, running around like their hair is on fire, and lay them down to go to bed. The contrast is too great," he warns.

Stay Calm
No matter how loudly your child is hitting or acting out, you must remain calm and cool. If you stick to a plan, and your child knows you're serious, you'll find it takes less and less time for your kids to settle down. "Remember, you are in control," Dr. Borba stresses.

Enforce Time-Outs
When you place a young child in time-out, don't give him or her a ridiculous amount of time, such as an hour or two. Time is a difficult concept for youngsters to grasp, so keep the length short, around three to five minutes. You can also invest in a timer, so your child can have a visual aid to either see when the time-out is over, or realize that if he or she misbehaves, the timer will be reset to the beginning. "They'll quickly learn the fastest way to get this over with is to comply," Dr. Phil says. "You have to be consistent and make sure they understand."

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