Stacey Kaye knows this first-hand. When her feisty toddler handed her lemons, she made lemonade and now has a book series to prove it. The author of two new parenting/picture books, Ready for the Day! A Tale of Teamwork and Toast , and Hardly any Foot-Dragging and Ready for Bed! A Tale of Cleaning Up, Tucking In, and Hardly Any Complaining, says parents need to let go of the idea of controlling our kids. "We can't control our kids but parents can set expectations up front."
To market to market
Going grocery shopping? Tell your child exactly what you're going to purchase such as, "We're going to the grocery store to buy three things: milk, eggs and yogurt." Or, Kaye says, tell them you have to be quick today so you'll use the regular shopping cart and will use the truck grocery cart next time (seriously though, those carts are too massive!).
Next, she says it's important to empower your child to give them choices. Sticking with the grocery store example, ask your offspring if they want to sit in the front of back of the cart, do they want to buy green or red grapes today? Cheerios or Honey Nut Cheerios? You get the idea…
As for routines around the house, experts like Kaye recommend making children feel important. "Give choices, validate feelings and encourage children to participate in bed time, bath time and clean up routines." For instance, ask them if they want to fly like an airplane to the bathroom or gallop like a horse. Do they want to wear princess pj's or flower jammies?
The glass is half full
"Encourage all positive behavior instead of criticizing the negative behavior – look for the good," she recommends. After all, you want them to repeat the behavior and make them feel good. "Whoa – look how quickly you got ready for bed tonight. We have time for an extra story!"
Plus, it helps having a creative flair. Kaye recommends fun tips like telling your child, "Let's see how many toys you can put away in one minute…on your mark, get set, go!"
So once you have all the tools in place the question is determining a discipline method that's effective in your household. It all boils down to communication. "What really works best is cultivating a respectful and positive relationship with your child," notes Kaye. Parents need to be reminded that the word discipline means guidance, not punishment. It's our job to teach them right from wrong and they don't need to feel bad during the process."
Don't be that gal
As for some of the things you shouldn't do? "Parents often do not follow through. "If you are going to resort to a threat such as, 'Johnny if you do not remain seated in this shopping cart, we are going to have to leave the store.' Only make the threat if you plan to follow through. It only takes one time of not following through for a child to learn that you are not serious."
Moreover, it's okay for your kid to deal with being disappointed; after all, it's an inevitable part of life. For example, in the grocery store some parents may toss a box of junky cereal into the shopping cart just to get their child to stop screaming. Sure, you'll get them to stop making a scene but they'll immediately know that's the way to get your attention (and whatever they want).
Remain calm, cool and collected
Above all, kids love to push our buttons, especially in public. Her advice? "The next time your child throws a fit in a store, let him. Of course, if you're in a library or other place that warrants quiet, take the child outside gently, not with a forceful/angry voice and simply stand there. Let him get it out, get down on his level, try to validate his feelings and show you care."
She adds, "Be calm, remain strong and tell yourself this will pass, count to yourself if you have to. When you get angry or upset, it fuels his tantrum and make it last longer. Don't be embarrassed. Passersby will be wowed by your ability to remain calm and in control and they will be shocked that you are actually showing empathy instead of anger." Bravo to you!