In the process of writing, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, I combed child development studies and picked the brains of dozens of parents. My goal was to compile the best proven and practical tips for raising kids 3 to 13. The end product is the size of a phone book (No kidding!). Meredith Viera on the TODAY show picked it up, said it was amazing and then jokingly stated that you could also bob the kid on the head with it it’s so darn big. (Gotta love Meredith — and I do). But please know that the last thing I want you to do is read this book from start to finish. It’s a reference guide – an encyclopedia of parenting – for you to just flip through and find the solution to the 101 top issues that concern modern day parents.
The best news is that these solutions work for all ages, take less than a minute to do, are based on proven research and when consistently used will reap lasting change. Here are my ten all time favorites (because they’re EASY but will reap results if you use them consistently!
1. Get attention: Lower your voice almost to a whisper and then say your request. Kids aren’t used to a quiet request.
2. Increase positive behavior: Research shows that giving kids the right kind of praise (called “positive reinforcement”) is one of the best ways to shape new behavior. So, catch your kid doing the action you want. Just make sure your praise is specific and tells your child exactly what he did right. (Adding “because” or “that” takes your praise up a notch. “I’m so impressed that you started your homework all by yourself this time.”)
3. Stretch persistence: Praising the child’s effort (“You’re working so hard”) and not inherent intelligence (”You’re so smart”) is proven to enhance perseverance and performance, but the child is also more likely to bounce back from a mistake—all because he feels success is not mixed.
4. Reduce fear: Expose your child to a fear in small manageable doses and help them develop a statement to speak back to the worry (“Go away worry!” or “I can do this!”)
5. Curb a tantrum: The longer you give attention to a tantrum the longer it lasts. Ignore, ignore, ignore!
6. Nurture kindness: Encourage your child to use the Two Praise Rule everyday. “Say or do at least two kind things to someone.” Random acts of kindness really are catchy!
7. Increase assertiveness: Stress: “Look at the color of the talker’s eyes.” Using eye contact helps kids appear confident. Strong body posture also helps a child be less likely to be bullied.
8. Friendship builder: The two most commonly used traits of well-liked kids are “smiling” and “encouraging.” Reinforce those traits in your child to boost his friendship quotient.
9. Develop healthy eating habits. Eating relaxed family meals regularly enhances kids’ psychosocial well- being, boosts grades and deters behaviors like smoking and drinking and eating disorders as well as teaches the child healthy eating habits.
10. Curb nagging. Say “no” the first time and don’t back down. The average kid nags nine times knowing the parent will give in.
Michele Borba is a TODAY show contributor on parenting, author of over 20 parenting books, and has spoken to over 1,000,000 parents and educators on four continents. Follow her on twitter @MicheleBorba