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By GreatSchools Staff
The problem: Have you ever screamed at your child, “Just be quiet!”? Seems pretty silly to be yelling about being quiet, right? When kids push our buttons — a talent many 6-year-olds have mastered with uncanny precision — it can be difficult for even the most patient parent to stay calm. But yelling is one of the least effective forms of discipline. Kids don’t hear the words you’re saying. They just hear the anger. And worse, after all that yelling, they rarely change their behavior (and you feel like a monster after seeing the frightened look on your child’s face).
Try this instead: If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like yelling, try your best to walk away. Because this can be easier said than done, it helps to have a “stop yourself” word (“stop” works) so you don’t start yelling without thinking. Or try counting to 10 before yelling. If you can get to 10, chances are you'll have lost the impulse to yell. It also helps to leave the room for a minute to regain your composure. When you return, calmly tell your child why you are angry: “I asked you to pick up your toys before you could go out to play.” Then tell him what you want him to do: “Pick up your toys now. Then you may go outside.”
The problem: “If you don’t turn off the TV right now, no TV for the rest of the week. I mean it!” Really? We often make threats we don’t — or can’t — follow through on. Our kids know this. As a result, they don't take the promised punishment seriously.
Try this instead: Do your best to think about the consequence of your child's misbehavior before you announce it. And make sure it's one you can live with. (Do you really want the whole family to skip the Fourth of July picnic?) Once you start following through, your kid will know you mean business. And remember: Keep it short and sweet. “If you clear your plate, you’ll get dessert. If you don’t, no dessert.” Simple, relevant, and very effective.
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