Talk to Your Child
If you simply put a child in time-out, you're controlling her rather than making her responsible for managing her own behavior. Instead, says Dr. Wolf, "tell her why you don't want her to do something and what the real consequences are--not her punishment, but that the marker doesn't come off the walls, for example. Two or three sentences will do just fine." The younger the child, the fewer the words. Get down to her level, and look her in the eye. She needs to hear what she's done wrong and what would have been correct: "We don't draw on the walls--we draw on a piece of paper" or "You can't have a cookie--it's too close to dinner. You may have a carrot instead." Then let the issue drop. "As soon as you let your child lure you into a discussion, you weaken the message," Dr. Wolf says. What if she has a valid objection? "Talk about it later," he suggests. "In the heat of the moment, she's likely just pleading her case, not starting a real conversation."