One of the amusing things about living in the Pacific Northwest is our particular brand of very very bad parenting. Tantrums in grocery stores and shopping malls are more often met with reasoned and calm negotiations with 2- and 3 -year olds (“Now Billy, Mommy knows you’re very upset about not getting that candy bar, but honestly, you know that sugar makes you crazy”), than a smack or a yell.
Since neither the violent outburst, nor the long talk are very effective at taming the child tyrant, we thought we’d offer you 3 quick tips that just might work:
1. Practice makes perfect – Kids are natural clowns. You can help them practice good behavior by making it fun. We play a game in my house called “Polite kid/Rude kid.” The kids get to take turns acting as rude as possibe at the dinner table, while their siblings get to yell out whether they’re being rude or polite. This really works!
2. Positive rewards versus punishment or explanation – Nothing like bribery (money, chocolate, buttons, star stickers) to get across to a kid that not hitting or spitting or kicking is worthy of plenty of life’s good things.
3. Focus on improving behavior rather than improving understanding – Since good behavior obviously doesn’t always flow from a greater understanding, explaining in concrete terms, especially to very young children is more important than teaching abstract concepts (You should never hit your sister).
For more tips on effective taming, go here.