From Go to Your Room!: Consequences That Teach by Shari Steelsmith.
- Respond to your children more calmly. I make the point in my book, Go to Your Room!: Consequences That Teach, that your discipline has a much higher chance of succeeding if you do it without yelling, exasperated lecturing, or crying. Becoming emotional only tells your child that you’ve lost control—and given it to him or her. If you can discipline calmly, even dispassionately, you will dramatically increase your odds of success. Make use of deep breathing, time-outs (for yourself), and other relaxation techniques to help you keep a rein on your emotions. Planning ahead for what guidance technique you will use when the misbehavior appears again is also very useful for maintaining calm.
- Limit your child’s exposure to “screens.” This is a constant battle at my house— making sure the “screen time” doesn’t creep up past the day’s limit. Studies tell us that the less time a child spends watching TV, playing on the computer or X-box, or otherwise entertaining himself with screens, the better his achievement in school and his cooperation at home. When kids don’t use screens, they do things like read, play outside, ride bikes and participate in other wholesome activities.
- Have regular family dinners. I know, you’re thinking, “Duh.” But with all the extra-curricular activities in which we allow our children to participate, family dinnertime is often a casualty. It’s easy to let this get out of hand. Remember, families who have dinner together regularly have a much higher percentage of healthy, well-adjusted children. Kids need predictable time to talk with their parents about their day, the opportunity to help with family chores (preparing food and doing dishes), and the opportunity to eat homemade food. Dashing through a fast-food drive-through and eating chicken nuggets on the way to practice is no substitute for a real family dinner.
- Read a new parenting book. Okay, this is a little bit of a commercial here, but be aware that there are constantly new, good parenting titles available on the market. If your bookshelf just has an old copy of Dr. Spock and a pregnancy manual collecting dust, then it’s definitely time to update your collection. Personally, I have three new books on my desk that I’m anxious to start—one on talking with your children about sex, one on challenging behaviors, and one on parenting proactively. There is a wealth of information available on this very website in the form of articles—all for free. So read something new and put a little wind in your sails.