Catch 'Em in the Act (of Being Good)
Your 13-month-old finishes eating her peaches and doesn't throw her spoon on the floor. Your 20-month-old colors on the paper rather than on the table. Your 3-year-old shares his trains nicely with a visiting friend.
The Problem: No problems here -- unless you allow these golden moments to go unmentioned. Kids repeat things that get them attention -- for better or worse. If you harp on the bad and ignore the good, then your child will conclude that misbehavior is his ticket to the limelight.
The Fix: Praise behaviors you'd like to see again. "It's much better to let kids know what they're doing right. Don't be hypervigilant to find the negatives," advises Jeffrey Bernstein, PhD, author of 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Marlowe & Company). "Dwell on the positives, and that's what you'll see more of. The most powerful thing you can do to encourage appropriate behavior is to reward appropriate behavior."