Discipline for Softies

Forget everything you've ever heard about how to deal with kids' bad behavior. According to this leading child psychologist, you don't have to get tough to discipline your kid properly.

The Truth About Tough Love

We've all been told that 21-century parents tend to overpraise their children and we've heard experts say that setting firm limits creates cooperative kids. But Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, thinks that the tough-love approach that's so popular today is all wrong. He may sound like a renegade, but according to this well-respected researcher, if you really want your child to be better-behaved, you actually need to praise him even more enthusiastically -- and you can't rely on punishment to fix a discipline problem. Dr. Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, says he knows what works: helping your child practice doing the right thing and then showering him with compliments every time he does it. "We have used this technique to help thousands of parents improve their kids' behavior, which ranges from normal challenges such as tantrums to extreme aggression," says Dr. Kazdin. Here, we talked to him about his warmer, fuzzier approach, which he details in his book, The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child. It might just be the key to a calmer home and a closer-knit family.

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