As parents, we all hope for children who respond quickly and positively to our requests. A child who does his homework, cleans up after himself and always remembers to say please. But oftentimes, our family life is far from what we hope. Here are a few tips from Aleta Koman, author of Who’s the Boss: How to Regain and Maintain Your Parental Authority When Kids Rule the Roost.
- Stay in the present. Don’t dwell on past mistakes—either yours or your child’s.
- Teach obedience through love and role modeling rather than negativity and punishment.
- Make rules reasonable, clear and consistent.
- Correct your child’s behavior rather than criticizing him as a person.
- Praise your child for making good choices.
- Promote self control.
- Help your child express his feelings verbally rather than lashing out physically.
I Will Statements
- Obey my authorities immediately.
- Have a cheerful attitude.
- Complete all that I am expected to do.
- Not complain.
- Go the “extra mile.”
Wood ducks build their nests high up in trees. When the eggs hatch, the ducklings are covered in soft down and are quickly able to leave the nest. When their mother calls to them from the ground, the ducklings jump from the high nest and make their way to the water. They are able to swim and find their own food the day after they hatch. Mother ducks lead the ducklings to the pond or lake and they obediently follow her. They pay attention to the calls she makes to alert them to danger and keep them safe from predators.
To make sure the rules you’ve set are clear, consistent, and understood by your child, write them out together. If there is a particular area where they seem to be falling short—like putting away toys or going to bed on time—focus on that. Make the activity fun and give them an opportunity to express their creativity by using paint or markers to put the rules down on paper. Talk about the rule and what it means to make sure he understands exactly what is expected of him. If your child isn’t old enough to write yet, he could draw a picture of his toys neatly in his toy box or him snuggled into bed. Don’t do this activity as a punishment. If you are focusing on going to bed on time, write the bedtime rules in the morning or afternoon—well before bedtime. When your child is finished, display the rule in a place where your child will see it every day, such as the bathroom or bedroom. And most importantly, praise your child when they are obedient. Positive reinforcement is the best formula for consistent success.