Five Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior

Discipline success starts with you! Read our easy steps for modeling appropriate behavior.

Improve Behavior, p.1



Claudia Camassa of Long Island, NY, was pulling out of a parking lot when a car blocked her path. "Come on, move your @X%," she muttered. Her son Salvatore, who was 2 at the time, was in the back seat and the radio was on, so she didn't think anything of it. But a few minutes later, when they were at a stoplight and the light turned green, she heard her son pipe up, "Come on, move your @X%!" Says Camassa, "I was laughing, but at the same time, I was crying!" Since then, she has made an effort not to swear in front of her two children, Salvatore, now 5, and Dominick, 2 1/2. "When I stub my toe, I'll say instead, 'Sugar, honey, iced tea!'" she laughs.

Sure, time-outs can be effective. Yes, it's important to set limits. But most often it's how you act that truly sets the tone for your child's behavior. Setting a stellar example may be the farthest thing from your mind when you're juggling a squirming toddler, a bag of groceries, and a ringing cell phone. Yet, kids observe everything we do -- even if they seem to be absorbed by the TV -- and that's the key to shaping their behavior. "Children are like movie cameras," says Karen Sharf, a New York City family therapist. "They see everything and record it in their minds, whether on a conscious level or not."

These days, in fact, modeling may be more important than ever. Our children's lives are a whole lot more complicated. Today, kids interact with more and more people outside the family, from teachers to coaches to other children's parents -- all at increasingly younger ages.

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