Parenting: Is Your Family Out of Control? (cont.)

Be Consistent and Predictable

Once you make a rule and tell your kids what's at stake, you must follow through. If you don't, they won't take the rule seriously. And if the rules keep changing, your kids may end up confused and frustrated. "If they can jump on the furniture one day and the parents don't do anything, and the next day the parents yell about it, the children won't know what the limits are," Long tells WebMD. Some children will test the limits again and again just to figure out what they are.

Parents Can Be a Good Example

You may tell your kids, "Do as I say, not as I do," but children learn by watching their parents. If you don't want your children throwing tantrums, set an example by keeping your cool -- even when your toddler has just redecorated the family room couch with finger paints. "Parents should punish their children in a matter-of-fact manner without getting too angry or upset," Long says.

Avoid Reinforcing Undesirable Behavior

When children whine or throw tantrums, it's tempting to give them anything they want so they'll stop wearing down your already frazzled nerves. But rewarding a tantrum with candy or anything else is a sure-fire way to inspire more tantrums.

Praise Good Behavior

"Discipline is not just punishment but includes positive feedback," Long says. Don't take good behavior for granted, or your kids may feel they get more attention when they behave badly. Just as praise from a teacher can motivate kids at school, praise from mom or dad can encourage good behavior at home.

Published Feb. 14, 2005.

SOURCES: Cynthia Goodman, Hallandale Beach, Florida. Ruth Peters, PhD, clinical psychologist; and author, Laying Down the Law: The 25 Laws of Parenting to Keep Your Kids on Track, Out of Trouble, and (Pretty Much) Under Control. Supernanny, ABC Winter 2005 TCA Press Tour transcript, Jan. 23, 2005. Nicholas Long, PhD, director, Center for Effective Parenting; and professor of pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; and co-author, Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for Parents of Two- to Six-Year-Olds. The American Academy of Pediatrics.

© 2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Last Editorial Review: 3/24/2005