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Just Say No: Four Ways to Curb Misbehavior Fast

By Anne Leedom

My days move along fairly smoothly. Routine, love and a solid foundation keep my family together. However, there is a time some days when everything I hold dear in terms of parenting wisdom goes right out the window. It's the hour when all the demands of family life come together...homework, dinner, tempers, bath time.... Any behavior issues that normally are negligible are certain to rear their horrid heads at this time and I am suddenly at a loss. I find myself acting in ways that would not win me the 'best parent award' of the year.

During these times I focus on what really matters. It isn't getting my child to eat their dinner, take their bath or even complete their homework. We focus on the things that our family has defined as foundational concepts. We laugh, we tell stories, provide a hug when needed...we use these frustrations as a great opportunity to show how strong we are as a unit and come together, not apart.

Here are  tips on how to keep balanced perspective on misbehavior and know when to use it to strengthen your family and when to "just say no."
  1. Thinking "It's just a phase." Bad behaviors don't just "go away." They almost always need adult intervention. The longer parents wait, the more likely the behavior will become a habit. So don't call it a phase: redirect the bad behavior as soon as it starts.

  2. Targeting specific behavior. It's best to work on improving only one-and never more than two-behaviors at a time. And the more specific the plan, the better. Narrow the focus to target the specific behavior you want to eliminate and your chances of success will increase.

  3. Have a plan. Once parents have identified the bad behavior, they need a solid plan to stop it. The plan must acknowledge the bad behavior, include a specific plan for change which should include a new replacement behavior and have specific consequences in place if the bad behavior returns.

  4. Perseverance is the rule. Learning new behavior habits generally takes a minimum of twenty-one days of repetition. Parents need to commit to changing the bad behavior and then continue using the plan for at least three weeks. Only then will they see change.

    A lot of Moms and Dads feel like their toddler's or child's behavior is driving them crazy. Maybe you're in the same boat - you feel stressed out, and you just want some PEACE. During stressful and hectic times we are most likely to notice behaviors that might only be evident during these times. So pay attention and then follow a step-by-step plan to eliminate the misbehavior and you can truly enjoy and cherish your times with your kids.

Expert TIP
According to Parenting Expert Dr. Michele Borba, the most important step a parent can take to curb bad behavior is to praise positive actions. Dr. Borba says, "Don't forget to reinforce your child when she behaves. Let her know how pleased it makes you feel . Make sure you describe exactly what your child did right, so your child is more likely to repeat the behavior. "I noticed how you remembered to use such polite words as, "Please" and "Thank you" when we were visiting Mrs. Walker.  It makes me happy to know how well-mannered you can be." Or: "Thank you for waiting until everyone was served before you began to eat. That was being polite."

Anne Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of She lives in Northern California and is frequently quoted in national media. She contributes to a variety of national online publications, including Permission granted for use on
Tags: Behavior, Motherhood-Fatherhood, Parenting, Teens
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