By Dr. Jan Hittelman

Parenting can be one of our greatest challenges. Many say it is our most difficult job with the least amount of training. Learning effective parenting strategies can dramatically improve our children’s behavior as well as our own sanity! For example:

Catch your child being good. Make an effort to provide positive feedback when your child behaves appropriately. Too often we focus our attention on negative behaviors and provide little to no feedback when our children behave appropriately.
Choose your battles: While choosing your battles is always a smart parenting technique, it is essential in reducing conflict with your teenage child. If the behavior problem is relatively minor, you can provide direct, calm feedback without necessarily imposing a consequence. More importantly, catch your child being good.

Stop Nagging. Children are smart. If we teach them that we are willing to repeat our requests ten times, why would they respond after the first or second request? We accidentally train our children to ignore our initial requests! The solution to breaking your child’s bad habit is to first break your own bad habit of repeating requests over and over again. There is an effective alternative to this approach. Minimize your repetition of requests and be clear with your child that their compliance is expected in a timely fashion.

Reduce Debating. A spirited debate regarding negotiable issues can often be healthy and productive. Quite often, however, we find ourselves debating with our children about non-negotiable issues. The solution to this problem is to put effort into avoiding debates when the issue at hand is a non-negotiable one. The way for a parent to avoid this debating trap is actually quite simple; don’t go for the bait and use assertive statements. An assertive statement acknowledges your child’s feelings; while at the same time restates your position.