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  • Parent/Child Traps

  • Confusion About Who is "In Charge"

    not listening

    Children need to know that their parents are "in charge" and that they make the final decisions involving safety, health and well-being. At the same time, parents need to understand what it means to be "in-charge." Being in charge does not mean that you chronically complain about every little thing that your child does wrong. Chronic complaining breeds resentment.

    How To Be In Charge

    • Instruct children.
    • Correct children in a matter-of-fact manner, but at appropriate times.
    • Challenge yourself to arrange circumstances in a way that ensures the success of your child.


    Often, parents and children do not communicate properly with one another. It is important to understand when and how to listen, and when and how to be listened to. Listening reinforces that the parent is in-charge, as well as promotes better communication. In turn, better communication fosters increased respect. Increased respect results in children following the rules.

    Focusing on Misbehavior

    Focusing solely on your child's misbehavior is the most frequent parenting "rut." Misbehavior is learned. Your child learns that misbehavior gains your attention. That attention is reinforcing.

    Attention is attention, despite your intention.

    Remember, misbehavior occurs for a reason. It is acquired through learning. It is based on experience, and it is selfish.

    Instead of focusing only on your child's misbehavior, focus on trying to catch your child being good. Again, attention is reinforcing. If your child receives attention from you for positive actions, they will want to continue to gain that attention.

    Also, when you begin to actively change your attitude and move away from "nit-picking," you will feel better about yourself as a parent. In turn, your child will be positively affected. Remember, children are reactive to the moods and behaviors of their parents.

    Misunderstanding the Principles and Purpose of "Time-out"

    Time-out is a rule. It must be taught like any other rule. Your child must be taught, and understand that the cost of their misbehavior is being removed from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity. But, timeout does not work without "time-in." Time-in presumes that your child was in a preferred activity before time-out.

    Allowing Parental "Splitting"

    Allowing "splitting" means that you allow your child to see you and your partner contradicting one another. Parents must work cooperatively for discipline to be effective. Parents must also be consistent and both enforce the rules and impose rewards and punishments. If parents allow "splitting" to occur, a child's misbehavior will continue. In addition, it will cause marital discord, which, in turn, affects your child.

    Overprotecting Your Child

    Do not overprotect your child. It is important that children develop personal and social responsibility. This can be done by assigning chores at an early age. Do not pay your child to complete these tasks. Payment defeats the purpose.

    Using Intimidation Tactics

    Avoid the temptation of using intimidation tactics as the "quick win." Intimidation does not result in effective parenting. Intimidation does not produce respect. Instead, it produces resentment and causes increased opposition in your child. Increased opposition results in the use of coercion tactics in order to get your children to behave. Coercion relies on fear, and fear produces avoidance. Avoidance eventually results in the abandonment of the relationship and the breakdown of the parent/child bond. The use of coersive techniques to manage children's behavior has a collateral affect on the parents' marriage and the family, in general.