Just-Right Discipline

When she throws a tantrum

It's time for you to go home from a playdate, and your 4-year-old decides to throw a fit.

  • Too Harsh "Stop that right now or we're never coming back."
  • Too Wimpy "We'll stay a little longer."
  • Just Right "We'll leave in five minutes. Our next stop is the supermarket -- do you want to ride in a shopping cart, or push a little cart on your own?"

No child likes to end a fun playdate, so give a warning and change the subject to the next activity. "Offering two choices about what to do next will give him some control over what's going on," says Dr. Bailey. Time is a tough concept for kids, so it's helpful to use a visual cue: Hold your hands out far apart to indicate a five-minute warning, then move them closer when there are two minutes left, and put them together when it's time to go.

Your kids are screaming at each other and you can't take it.

  • Too Harsh "That's enough! Both of you go to your room this minute!"
  • Too Wimpy "Come and tell me what's wrong, and I'll figure out a solution."
  • Just Right "I don't know what's going on, and I don't want to know, but if you can't work it out quietly, you both need to leave the room."

This is about the noise, not the arguing (at least they're using their words). "Your goal is not to get involved and not to assign any blame," says Braun. "You simply need to remind them to use their indoor voices or take the screaming outside."

Related Features:

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment