6 Resolutions for Better Toddler Behavior

Resolution #6: I will stop myself from throwing a tantrum whenever my kid breaks a rule.

Why it's worth making: Yes, it can be satisfying to vent your frustration, but getting upset won't shock her into doing what you say. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect. "At this age, kids can't always tell the difference between what's fun and what's serious," explains Windell. "Your toddler may think it's hilarious to watch you have a meltdown, so she'll keep defying you to make you yell again."

Your new approach: Give simple corrections (yes, even when you feel like you're going to scream). If your toddler chucks her veggies on the floor at dinner, take a deep breath and use your calmest, firmest voice to remind her of the rules ("When you're eating, food stays on your plate"). Then get her focused on something else or, better yet, give her kudos for doing something well ("Great job using your spoon!"). After all, kids love praise as much as they seem to dislike rules.

Originally published in the January 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

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