8 Smart Discipline Fixes

Make Negatives Positive

disciplining your child

Genevieve Kote

Lately your 30-month-old has been testing her independence (and your patience), and you feel like a broken (and decidedly downbeat) record: "No standing on the coffee table! No throwing your food on the floor! No pouring water into Mommy's laptop!"

The Problem: Uttering a constant chorus of no's is discouraging for you and your child. Plus, if your child hears no too often, she'll start to tune it out (regardless of how loudly you say it), just as people who live close to airports grow oblivious to the roar of low-flying jets.

The Fix: Set limits with positives, urges Walsh. "There are a million ways to say no without ever using the word," he says. Instead of "No jumping on the couch," try "Both feet on the floor." Instead of "No, you can't clean your toys with the watering can," try, "Let's water the plants instead!" By correcting with a positive, you convey the belief that your child is capable of behaving, giving her confidence and incentive to meet your expectations. And if your child doesn't hear you constantly saying no, perhaps she'll use the word less herself -- or maybe that's wishful thinking!

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