10 More Expert Parenting Tips

Parenting experts offer advice on most effective discipline strategies

Parenting experts share their top discipline tips.
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As a follow up to "Parenting Tips from 10 Parenting Experts," I interviewed 10 more parenting experts from around the globe to gain their top parenting tips. Each one shared what they think is the single most important piece of parenting advice. Here are their responses:

1. Explain What to Do, Rather than What Not to Do

"Do not lecture (speak in short sentences) since no one listens to long speeches, especially preschoolers.

Try to put demands in the positive. For example, say 'walk' instead of 'don't run.' Kids in the latter will hear 'run', and you are not telling them what they should do - they don't know what to do and need to learn."

-Resa Fogel, Psychologist with private practices in Montclair and Teaneck, New Jersey

2. Validate Your Child's Feelings

"Try saying something like,'That sounds really frustrating,' or 'I can see why you're mad,' the next time your child is expressing an emotion. I can almost guarantee your child will react differently once they feel heard and understood."

-Pam Dyson, Child Development Expert, Parenting Coach, and Licensed Professional Counselor in Ballwin, Missouri

3. Be a Good Role Model

"Be an example. To discipline means to help your children practice positive activities so they become habits. To do this you must exemplify positive habits in all that you do. Walk the walk."

-Christopher Robbins, founder of Familius.com, a company focused on publishing content to help families be happy in Huntsville, Utah

4. Use Warnings, Not Threats

“Be careful about making idle threats when disciplining your children. Don't say it if you know you can't follow through with it. For instance, will you really enforce a ‘no television for a month’ rule? If not, kids will catch on very quickly that you don't follow through with your discipline and you'll lose credibility quickly.”

-Barbara Flor, Licensed Professional Counselor in Doylestown, Pennsylvania

5. Maintain a Healthy Relationship

"The relationship between you and your child is central to your child's well-being. It is the premise for healthy human development and all future relationships. If there are behavioral issues, deepen the relationship with your child by focusing on bonding and attachment first and foremost. This is particularly important if you are parenting foster and adopted children. It is easy to get caught up in trying to 'fix' certain behaviors. Focusing on the relationship will help produce longer lasting change."

-Jodie Gale, Psychotherapist in Sydney, Australia and mother to two long-term foster children

6. Role Model an Indoor Voice

"Stop the yelling. You yell you lose - there is no power in yelling. I teach parents how to be powerful in parenting, especially in discipline. Consequences have to hurt. Unless there is some pain associated - kids won't change."

-John Mayer, Psychologist in Chicago, Illinois and author of several books, including “Family Fit”

7. Use Discipline, Not Punishment

“Keep in mind that discipline is focused on teaching your child skills that will help them when they are adults. Punishment, on the other hand, focuses on power and control and is a poor teacher. Ask yourself ‘Who owns the problem?’ If your child is late for school because she didn't get up on time, the child owns the problem. If you own it - by nagging, yelling, making excuses to the teacher - then your child will not learn to take responsibility.”

-Melody Bacon, Psychologist and Chair of the Marriage and Family Therapy programs for the Southern California campuses at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

8. Use Logical Consequences

Consequences (which logically relate to the behavior; positive ones for good behavior and negative ones for unacceptable behavior) work much better than punishments, which can often be unrelated to the behavior and punitive. With consequences, children experience a direct cause and effect, not random responses to their behavior.

-Meg Akabas, founder of New York City-based Parenting Solutions and author of “52 Weeks of Parenting Wisdom: Effective Strategies for Raising Happy, Responsible Kids”

9. Create a Reward System

“Use a positive reward system at home: a coin system with a way to earn coins that lead to watching TV at night or playing video games or shopping at your treasure chest. It works better than always grounding and yelling.”

-Susan Hendler, Elementary School Teacher and owner of a social skills group called Sociable Kidz in Mamaroneck, New York

10. Make Your Home a Peaceful Place

“Create an emotional climate in your home in which you'd like to live, and your kids will like it too. You'll have fewer discipline problems, and, when something does arise, it can be treated as a rare problem to address, rather than as a catastrophe, or an indication of horrible ill intent or bad character. For example, if a teen stays out later than agreed upon, it's more helpful to ask what happened, and how it can be avoided in the future, rather than immediately meting out harsh punishment.”

-Lisa Greenberg, Psychologist in Madison, New Jersey

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