8 Smart Discipline Fixes

Validate Your Child's Feelings

Your 2-year-old is happily swinging at the park until she hears those dreaded words: "Sweetie, it's time to go home." Like a flash thunderstorm, she erupts into a full-blown fit. Irritated, you insist that she stop crying and come right now, or you're never bringing her to the park again. She cries louder and clings even tighter to the swing's chains.

The Problem: No one, whether 2 or 102, likes to feel bullied or controlled, which is why demanding compliance from an angry, agitated toddler invariably escalates the tantrum.

The Fix: Acknowledge the legitimacy of your child's feelings. "Think of it from your child's perspective: you're angry because she wants to stay at the park. Does that mean it's bad to want to stay at the park?" asks Nelsen. Instead, try: "I understand you're mad because you want to stay and we have to leave. But we have to go now." Then kindly but firmly pick her up and carry her to the car (remember, at this age, actions speak louder than arguments). "Don't give in to your child's feelings and don't try to talk her out of her feelings. Just let her have them," counsels Nelsen. "It sounds so basic, but many parents have difficulty allowing children to experience their emotions because we don't like to see our kids upset. But children do better when they feel better -- and we make children feel better when we recognize their feelings and their right to have them."

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