Parenting Tricks

Disciplining your children is required if they are to learn that there are consequences for unwanted behaviors. Corporal punishment (spanking) is no longer acceptable and has proven to be detrimental in many cases. It's easy to cross that line from teaching to abusing. Here are a few parenting tricks to the new parenting style that lessens the likelihood of losing your temper. Using positive reinforcement will make a huge impact on your children and improve their ability to remember the rules without either of you suffering.

Effective Parenting Tricks

1. Get Their Attention First

If you find yourself repeating instructions over and over again, check your approach. Do you call their name, touch them, and have a face-to-face conversation? If not, maybe they hear you talking but don’t even know it is meant for them. Instead of giving out orders like "Go, do your homework," you will probably get a quick and positive response if you say "come with me" (with outstretched hand) and gently guide them over to the work area. This will lessen the frustration and save time for both of you.

2. Redirect Their Energy

Using the art of deflection, you can change a negative experience into a positive one. Most kids misbehave to get attention. Take that opportunity to remove them from the conflict and engage them in an activity that will make them feel good about themselves and use up that stored up energy.

When you talk to them, get down to their level, eye to eye, and say their name first. Then you know that you have their full attention and that their very active little mind isn’t wandering. Give them instructions that are clear and easy for a little one to understand; have them say it back to you to be sure they understand what you mean.

3. A Powerful Tool Called Guilt

Kids want to please adults—use this to your advantage. When your child is doing something wrong, a simple look across the room or your moving closer to them may be all it takes. A look of disappointment is more effective than a spanking in this method. Suggest that they have the power to decide if they really want to continue the undesirable activities or if they would like to change it now. Give them a reason they should stop what they are doing and explain how their activity is affecting others negatively.

4. So Your Child Is Not a Neat Freak

When your kids' play area or room is always left in a mess, it's obvious you need a new tactic. Try being assertive but not angry or overbearing, the point is to teach them, not to make them afraid of you or ashamed of themselves. Make it clear what chores need to be done now and every day, create routine expectations, and ask them what they see needs to be put away. This will make them aware of their surroundings.

If they are taking way too long to get the job done, introduce a clock. You can make it a challenge by seeing how quickly they can get it all done and give them a reward. It can be a simple star sticker.

Compliment them for what they do, don't just point out what they don’t do or threaten to stop taking care of them. They need to develop a "team" mentality early in life. So point out what you do for them and tell them you need their help, like cleaning up.

5. Mealtime Challenges and Bedtime Fun

Just like adults, children like certain foods and not others. It may be the color of the food or the presentation or consistency, but some foods they just won't eat. They also go through periods of loving something and then suddenly won’t eat it ever again. Maybe they have had a bad experience the last time, and now they associate it. Who know? The real goal is to get them to try everything at least once. Having them help with preparation is an easy way to get them to taste it: ask them to make sure it tastes good so that we can serve it and have them announce they help make it. 

You should also make the rules, repeat them before each meal, and stick to them. If your rule is to have them taste each food presented, or eat all their vegetables, so be it. The consequences for not doing it should be the same level of the violation. In other words, don’t make it a bigger deal than it really is, severe punishment for simple things may backfire and nurture stubbornness. (No desert is a common one, and limiting not eliminating the drink intake is another.)

Bedtime should be fun and easy going. We have all had the experience of trying to get to sleep when we are upset. Setting up a routine works well. Take pictures of the bedtime ritual and number them consecutively. Glue a little Velcro to the back and have your child put them on the corresponding poster as they are completed. After a few nights of this, it will be them directing bedtime prep, so make sure you know the routine.

6. When It's Time to Go

Any time a kid is enjoying the activities, getting them to leave can be a challenge. You can just demand it, get angry, and thereby erase all the good you have gained from going in the first place. Try making it fun, like "let's hopscotch to the car together," or ask them to help you take things to the car. If a meal is up-coming, get them to focus on what they want or where they want to eat, like a certain restaurant orthe porch at home. Life will be much easier.

7. Gimmie, Gimmie

We all want to give our kids everything, but it isn't realistic. They come to expect it and then demand it. Curb this early in life and avoid the headaches. As soon as your child is old enough to ask for something, start a wish list—tell them to keep it somewhere they can easily find it. Include the name, price, and what store the item is in. Start giving them cash for simple chores done welland a piggy bank to go with it. Tell them the bank money is for their wish items. If there is something you don't want them to have at all, explain why, be firm, and stick to it.

8. Sassy Little Kids

Let's face it—we all talked back to our parents at one time or another. It wasn't tolerated then, nor should it be. Don't allow yourself to get dragged into an argument with your 4-year-old, it's embarrassing. Yelling is their common technique, so take control.You speak very quietly, and it throws them off completely. Then, get down to eye level, and explain they must stop talking until they can speak quietly like you do.

Another option is to add a little humor to their behavior and deflect the anger. Tell them you can see they are very angry and then warn them not to smile, because that would ruin the effect. Then say, "Oh oh, I think I see a little smile coming on. Don't do it." It won't take much of this routine before they are laughing. This is when you should sit down with them and discuss the issue that starts it, calmly.

9. The Fighting Sibling Special

When your kids start fighting, it is often energy overload or needing attention. You can meet both their needs and stop the arguments. Speak to them in an unusually quiet tone, tell them you love them, and give them a hug and kiss.

Then ask them to complete a task that uses up that excess energy—sweeping the driveway or front porch. Have them discuss what tools they will need. If they fight again, give them more work to do together. It won't take long before they realize they have to get along.