The way you react to your children's misbehavior affects future misbehavior. A certain amount of misbehavior is normal; my guess is that young children misbehave about 5 percent of the time. (Some days it feels like 50 percent!) Knowing how to react to this 5 percent is crucial. Reacting correctly and consistently can reduce misbehavior from 5 percent to less than 2 percent while reacting incorrectly can increase misbehavior to 10 percent or more.
Knowing how to react is essential, but knowing how to prevent discipline problems is more important. You can escape many predicaments by setting up a few guidelines in advance. Successful parents believe in prevention and planning; they are more proactive than reactive. You will learn several strategies to help you be more proactive.
What We Need
What factors contribute to successful parenting? Successful parents and their children are partners in discipline. Successful parents know that discipline is a teaching process, not just punishment. Successful parents understand that their behavior and emotions affect their children's behavior and emotions. Successful parents model responsibility; they focus their attention and energy on the positive aspects of their children's behavior and emphasize cooperation, not control. Successful parents teach their children to think for themselves. They teach children self-control. Successful parents build self-esteem. They know that healthy self-esteem is the main ingredient children need to develop self-confidence and resiliency.
Successful parents learn from their children. They develop reaction patterns that reduce misbehavior. Successful parents are consistent; they say what they mean and mean what they say. They follow through. Successful parents stay calm when their buttons are being pushed. They use punishments that teach, not get even. Successful parents connect special activities with good behavior.
Successful parents anticipate problems. They have a game plan. They have proactive strategies for managing tantrums, disobedience, fighting, arguments, and power struggles. Successful parents have plans that teach the value of completing chores, earning allowances, and doing homework.
Successful parents do not let misbehavior keep them from enjoying their children. Successful parents are strict but positive. They are serious about the importance of proper conduct, but they have a childlike sense of humor whenever it is needed. Successful parents know how to appreciate their children, even when they are misbehaving. Most importantly, successful parents are open to change.
How This Book Will Help
This book will make your life easier. This book teaches you how to get your children to listen the first time you ask them to do something. It teaches you how to be more consistent. It shows you how to get your children to behave without getting angry. It explains how to use incentives without bribing. It shows you how to use punishments that teach. It explains how to punish your children without feeling punished yourself. It teaches you how to correct your children without arguments and power struggles. It empowers you to handle teasing and tantrums. It will even tell you what to do when one of your children pees in the refrigerator.
If you already have well-behaved children, thank your higher power. This book will help you, too. It will make you more conscious of the successful strategies you are currently using. This book will show you how to maintain good behavior, and it will prepare you for any future problems.
One of the best sources of help for parents is other parents. I realized this after watching parents who have attended my parenting workshops. It's thrilling to see parents pick each other's brains for techniques. They find ideas that will stop Jonathan's tantrums or get Heather to do her homework or get the twins to stop fighting. This book is a collection of ideas that I have learned from parents-parents who were fatigued and confused, parents drained by yelling, parents who felt imprisoned by their children, parents who walked through life on a treadmill, parents whose hearts were empty, parents who sometimes felt like giving up. Parents who discovered a better way.
Reprinted from How to Behave so Your Children Will, Too! by Sal Severe by permission of Viking Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Sal Severe. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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