The Secret to Getting Your Kid to Do What You Want

Does good behavior seem like an elusive concept? Find out how to make positive changes to your child's behavior.

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What's the Secret?

Have you ever been so frustrated with your child that you threatened or yelled at him? If so, did that stop the behavior?

Punishment is a short-term, reactive solution to bad behavior. It makes your child feel angry, guilty and resentful, and it ultimately ebbs away at a healthy parent-child relationship.

Find out the secret to making long-lasting, positive changes to your youngster's behavior.

What Does "Positive Discipline" Mean?

Punishment means using techniques like yelling and spanking to reduce bad behavior.

Positive discipline means patiently guiding your child so that he learns good behavior. You set firm limits and teach your child problem solving skills so that he'll build up a positive self-image. In the long run, your child learns self-control and cooperation.

These five techniques will help you create a positive and nurturing environment for your kid—and get him to do what you want!

Manage the Environment

Keep an eye on your child’s surroundings, and minimize the opportunities he has to misbehave. Once your child starts crawling and walking, childproof your home so that fragile items are out of reach of grabby fingers. Kids sometimes misbehave out of boredom, so keep your child busy with constructive activities and items to explore.

Set Clear Rules and Limits

When you have too many rules, it’s hard for your kid (and you!) to keep track of them all. Set clear limits by picking rules that are vital for your child to know given his age. For young kids, focus on safety rules, such as staying in a designated room or away from the road. For an older child, set expectations around doing homework and chores. Try to phrase your rules with positive language. Instead of saying "Don't make a mess," try something positive instead, such as, "It's great to see you making crafts; would you please clean up if you're finished?"

Praise Good Behavior

Catch your kid being good, and praise him accordingly. Sometimes, all it takes is positive reinforcement and encouragement to see kids repeating behavior that makes you proud. For example, if your kid helps his baby sister pick up her toys, say, "It's so great that your sister has such an excellent role model to look up to; thanks for your help!" By acknowledging your child's good deeds, you increase the likelihood he'll continue his positive behavior.


Be Reasonable

If your child misbehaves, calmly explain to her why her actions were unacceptable, and reinforce how she should be acting ... without yelling or losing your temper. Your compassion and patience will show her how to handle conflict in a positive way. This discussion will also give her a chance to express her view.

Punish Appropriately

If you’ve done these four steps and your child continues to misbehave, you may need to punish her. Don’t resort to hitting or yelling. Instead, come up with a solution that takes your child’s age into consideration. For a younger child, give her a timeout (about one minute per year of your child’s age) so that she can reflect on her actions. For an older child, temporarily take away a privilege (such as a cell phone). Explain your reasoning for the punishment, and be sure to praise your child when her behavior improves.

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