Stop It Before It Starts
- Always use good manners and nice language in your home, advises psychologist Edward Christophersen, Ph.D. There's the temptation to slack off in your own house and roll out "company manners" only for special occasions like visits, but that's a mistake. "Your child learns by imitating you," he explains. "If you use the occasional bad word when you're talking to your spouse, don't expect your child to understand that he can't curse too."
- Try some positive reinforcement. "Don't take notice only when kids misbehave," Dr. Christophersen says. "If your toddler is playing nicely or conversing well, support it by paying attention and interacting with him. That will build his self-esteem and lead to respectful behavior."
- Know your child's limits. "Keep her developmental and temperamental needs in mind," says education professor Judith Leipzig. "If you absolutely must take your daughter to that daylong wedding, bring along a baby-sitter. It will pay off I the long run."