Just-Right Discipline

When he won't listen to you

Your 18-month-old keeps standing up in his high chair while he's eating dinner.

  • Too Harsh "That's all -- you're done! No more supper for you."
  • Too Wimpy "Be careful! Come on, sit down now. Look, here comes the airplane spoon flying to your mouth!"
  • Just Right "We sit when we eat. I'll help you sit back down."

"Parents sometimes think it's better to just distract their toddler or ignore unwanted behavior, but 1-year-olds are old enough to follow simple rules," says Griffin. In fact, your child is probably watching to see your reaction when he demonstrates his new high-chair maneuver. Calmly let him know that sitting is always required at mealtime. If he doesn't get a rise out of you (or a free trip onto your lap for the rest of the meal), he'll take a seat and be less likely to stand up during the next meal.

You ask your 6-year-old to hang up her jacket and she says, "I'm busy. Hang it up yourself!"

  • Too Harsh "Don't you talk to me that way, young lady. Go to your room right now!"
  • Too Wimpy "Okay, I'll do it this time."
  • Just Right "In this house, you'll have to lose that attitude. I don't speak to you that way, and you may not speak to me that way. I asked you to hang up your jacket, and I expect you to do it."

There are two issues here -- the back talk and the jacket. "If you respond in a tone that shows you mean it, most kids will hang up the jacket," says Braun. "She probably heard another kid talk like this, and she's seeing if she can get away with it." The most important thing to do is take a deep breath, and focus on the good behavior you want to teach her.

Originally published in the June 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

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