Behavior Modification Techniques: Rewards & Consequences

Do you ever wonder if you're giving the right consequences? Perhaps you don't feel like it's having an effect on your child's behavior. And are natural consequences for children always the best thing? Parenting strategies that explain the right way to give consequences to your child and teen—and the importance of giving rewards.

Using Consequences to Maintain Your Parental Authority

When your child acts out or breaks the rules, it’s normal to feel your authority as a parent slipping away. If you’re like most parents, you’ve tried everything: you’ve taken the car away, locked the video games in a cabinet, and have even considered cancelling Christmas or a birthday party. Read More

Anger, Guilt and Spending on Kids: 8 Questions to Ask Before Buying Anything

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I find myself wondering how many parents are saying to themselves things like: “We spent big money just last year on a new PlayStation and now my son says he wants an Xbox! Why can’t he be happy with what he has?” If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Read More

“Our Morning Routine Isn’t Working”— 6 Ways to Fix It Now 

Maybe you started out the school year on the right foot. All those late summer discussions about your kids getting organized, laying their clothes out the night before, getting out of bed on time, fixing their own breakfast, getting through the morning without arguments—you really thought you got through to them. Read More

Punishments vs. Consequences: Which Are You Using?

Do these situations sound familiar? Your 10-year-old won’t listen to you when you tell her to come inside for dinner. You rack your brain for a way to change this behavior so that in the future she will do as you ask. Your teenager breaks curfew – again. You thought you had addressed this with him the last time he got home late, but here you go again. As parents, we know the importance of parenting from our principles, things like teaching our children to own up to their actions and face the fallout when they make poor choices.  And you’ve tried.  You’ve talked to your child over and over, you’ve explained your reasoning repeatedly. You’ve given them restrictions, taken things away and grounded them for a month. Yet nothing seems to be getting through. It could be time to look at the difference between punishing your child and using consequences. Read More

Is Your Child Responsible Enough to be Home Alone? Dos and Don'ts for Parents

Many parents are at a loss for what to do with their older children during the summer months – they may get the summer off, but you probably don’t. That leaves a whole chunk of time to fill each day. How do you know if your child is responsible enough to be left home alone? What if you know he isn’t, but he won’t stop begging to be in charge of his own schedule this summer? Read More

Inside Your Teen's Brain: 7 Things Your Teenager Really Wants You to Know

Have you ever wondered what’s going on inside of your teenager’s head? What was she thinking when she made that choice? Why won’t he listen to what I’m telling him? It can seem as if an adolescent is completely wrapped up in a separate world, feet planted firmly in the air instead of on the ground.  As parents, we often come away bewildered or frustrated when our teen’s perspective seems so utterly different from our own. Read More

Disrespectful Kids: How to Get Your Child or Teen to Behave with Respect

We all know that kids can act in many disrespectful and rude ways to parents: they can slam doors, roll their eyes, and tell you they hate you, to name a few. It’s natural to get very worried and frustrated and wonder if these types of behaviors constitute out-and-out abuse, or just “rudeness and mild disrespect.” How can a parent know when these rebellious and rude behaviors have crossed over a boundary and gone way too far? Read More

Life Lessons for Kids and Teens: 5 Skills Every Child Needs to Learn

When my son received his GED this year, I put together a small scrapbook for him with photos, quotes, and cards from his friends. I also considered the life skills he’s already mastered and thought about the ones he’s still working on. The big "aha moment" for me? Realizing that everything else in life builds upon the ability for kids to be able to do these five things… Read More

How to Talk to Teens: 3 Ways to Get Your Teen to Listen

You know the drill: you’re trying to talk to your teen about curfew. Or dinner. Or absolutely anything—and they pretend they can’t hear you. They start an argument with you, or give you an eye roll and a "Whatever." Or they turn up their music. They won’t lift their eyes from their screens. They scoff or grunt in your general direction. There’s no eye contact, no acknowledgement, and absolutely no hint of, “Yes, Mom, I understand what you’re saying to me.” Read More

5 of the Hardest Things Parents Face: How to Handle the Most Challenging Parenting Issues

Watching my child struggle without stepping in to “fix” things for him was one of the hardest things I’ve personally experienced as a mom, even though I knew it was the best thing for him. And the truth is, from the very beginning, being a mother is a balance of taking care of your kids while letting them grow up and learn from their mistakes. Your role of simply loving and protecting your baby from pain and discomfort changes to one of accepting that your child or teen will need to experience natural consequences for his or her actions. The hard part (for them and for us!) is that these consequences almost always include some discomfort, disappointment or pain. Read More

Parenting Teens: 5 Ineffective Things to Avoid Doing

At Empowering Parents, we talk a lot about “effective” versus “ineffective” parenting styles. In fact, James Lehman reminds us that it’s not about whether your parenting style is right or wrong, it’s about whether it’s effective. Read More

In Over Your Head? How to Improve Your Child's Behavior and Regain Control as a Parent

Recently, a frustrated mom sat in my office and said, “I just don’t know what to do anymore. We’ve tried everything! There’s no punishment that gets through to our child; there’s nothing we can say that will fix her behavior. There’s so much going on we just don’t know where to start.” Sound familiar? Parents often get by on intuition and advice from others, but let’s face it–that’s not always enough, especially if you have a child who doesn’t respond well to your attempts to manage their behavior. Read More

6 Ways to Manage Tantrums, Misbehavior and Meltdowns During the Holidays

If you have a child or teen who misbehaves, the holidays can be a source of infinite stress and anxiety. Your individual expectations of the holidays can be seriously at odds: you expect to have a nice, shared time with your whole family and maybe attend some larger family gatherings; they expect to get every gift they demand, and they intend to spend their school break staying up late, sleeping in, and playing video games. The resulting holiday season can be filled with tantrums, obnoxious behavior, and lots of yelling and screaming. Read More

Demanding Children and Teens: Is Entitlement Just a Stage?

Your 10-year-old son begs you to buy him the newest video game. He cries, “All my friends have it. Why can’t you be like all the other parents? They buy their kids the stuff they want!” Or, your 16-year-old daughter is annoyed that she has to drive the old beat up Chevy to school. “I don’t want to be seen in this piece of junk! Have you seen what kind of cars the other kids drive!?” Read More

5 Steps to Giving Effective Consequences to Young Kids

When the young child in your house breaks the rules, do you find yourself frustrated and confused about the next step to take? The key to creating better behavior at this tender age is to begin teaching your child the concept of consequences. There’s no better time than now to help your kids understand that their behavior, both positive and negative, has an effect on others. Keep reading to discover five helpful tips that make giving consequences to easier and less painful for everyone involved. Read More

Manipulative Child Behavior? My Kids Are "Too Smart for Their Own Good"

Does this sound familiar? "My middle schooler blackmails me emotionally – he cries that I 'don’t care about him and love his brother more' when I ask him to stop playing his video games. It's true that he's a more difficult kid, and his words make me feel so bad that I often feel guilty and let him continue to play." Or "My teenager negotiates with me relentlessly to get her way. 'If you let me go to the party tonight,' she'll say, 'then I promise I'll get all my work done tomorrow.' I figure, why not? So I let her go. But then, 'Oops!' She conveniently forgets all her promises." Read More

Screen Time: Using Technology as a Consequence or Reward for Your Child

It's important to understand that you can’t get your child to care about homework, chores or hygiene just because you do. What you can do is help them complete those tasks and reach certain goals regardless of how they feel about them. You do this by offering something important to them, in order to get them to complete something important to you. What do kids value? Screen time. In other words, phone, Internet, TV and video games. Read More

How to Discipline Your Child: Effective Consequences for Children Who Don't Listen

Does your child ignore consequences? Your situation may look different on the surface, but many parents can agree on the same underlying theme: "My kid acts out. I give him a consequence, but nothing changes. In fact, his behavior just keeps getting worse." Fortunately, there’s a way through this never-ending cycle. (The answer might not be what you think.) Read More

“Which Consequence Should I Give My Child?” How to Create a List of Consequences for Children

Many of the questions we hear about on the Parental Support Line involve consequences and incentives. Parents wonder how to set them up effectively, and how long to give them. Another frequent question we receive is simply, "What am I supposed to use as a consequence—or a motivator?"   Read More

5 Areas to Let Your Child Face Natural Consequences

Everyone says you should let your child face natural consequences, but what exactly does this mean? Many parents struggle with this concept because they don’t fully understand what constitutes a "natural" consequence. And sometimes parents have difficulty relinquishing control of consequences because they feel they always have to get their child to obey, even if it means getting into a huge blowout. Read More