Love knows no limits, right? Wrong! If you want to raise well-mannered children, you'll need to establish some ground rules. Nip bad behaviors in the bud with these seven steps:
1. Set clear, simple limits
Think of it this way: If you leave no room for reinterpretation, you save yourself arguing later. Listen to the difference between "Oh okay, you can have a cookie..." (plenty of room for hope that a second one might be okay) and "You can have one cookie, but don't ask me for a second one. This is it."
2. Stick to those limits no matter what
One really means one. It's happened to all of us: We say no to more than one cookie, and then we start second-guessing ourselves. The trick here is to take a long-term view. Maybe a second cookie really would be okay just this once, but do you really want to be second-guessed every time you set a limit? That will happen if you change your story.
3. Never give in to begging
This one's simple — once you do, you've taught your child that begging works, right?
4. Make your child convince you
If she wants something you're not sure about, ask her to make a case for it. She wants to watch a favorite TV show? If she explains that all her homework is done and she's practiced piano, you can feel comfortable saying yes.
5. Require that chores get done before fun
You don't do your child any favors by being a softy. Studies show that being strict on chores and responsibilities helps him develop the ability to cope with frustration.
6. Don't be afraid to disappoint
We hate to see our kids sad, but the Stones said it best: You can't always get what you want. And studies show that learning to accept disappointment will give your child important coping skills to deal with emotional stress later in life.
7. Let them work for what they want
Many experts believe that kids become spoiled when things come too easily, encouraging them to take those things for granted. If your child wants a new bike, set up a reward system for good behavior and let him earn it bit by bit.