Every parent has his or her own discipline style. Whether you're a bona fide pushover or a self-declared mean mommy, here are some techniques you can try to get your kids to behave—most of the time:
- Anticipate problems before they occur: If you know that your kid tends to have a meltdown at a certain time of day, don't pick that time to go to the grocery store! When you know your child is going to have a challenging afternoon, make sure he gets enough to eat and has a good nap.
- Give choices: To head off battles before they start, offer your kid choices so he can feel as if he's in control of the situation ("Do you want to take a nap or try going potty?")
- Give your child a time out: You might give a warning or count down before your child gets a time out so they're prepared for the consequence of their action. A time out removes your child from the situation and gives him time to think about his actions. Just a couple of minutes will usually do the trick. Keep in mind that time outs generally don't work until a child is 18 months or so.
- Find new ways to say no: You're probably tired of saying "no" or "don't do that" and your kid is, no doubt, tired of hearing it! So instead of saying "No TV," why not say "Let's watch TV after dinner." Rather than "Don't jump on the bed," try saying "We don't jump on the bed in this house."
- Distract your kid: You'd be amazed how easy it is to distract a young child. Their attention span is so short that they soon forget what they were so intent on only a moment earlier. Try pointing out something interesting going on outside your window to distract her from those lollipops she can't stop thinking about.
- Use positive discipline: Rather than punishing for negative behavior, try praising good behavior. Create sticker charts and reward systems to create incentives for good behavior. Everyone likes to be told how fab they are, even 2-year-olds!
Finally, with any methods of child discipline, the idea is to be firm and consistent so your kids understand the consequences of their actions. Remember that kids thrive on routine and structure. So do your best to set limits and stick to them so they know what to expect.