Supernanny, aka Jo Frost, has won the hearts of families across America and the United Kingdom with her warm, fair, no-nonsense approach to discipline. On her reality show, "Supernanny," she helps families struggling to set clear, firm boundaries for their kids. Instead of overly harsh discipline, which can make little ones feel angry and resentful, Frost suggests practicing what she calls "positive discipline," which helps kiddos learn social skills they'll use for life: responsibility, compromise, communication and flexibility. So next time your little one is less than angelic -- you probably won't have to wait long for that -- try some of Supernanny's techniques for squelching negative behaviors.
Pick Your Battles
Ignore minor misbehavior, suggests Dr. Victoria Samuel, a Supernanny expert. Too much nagging and criticism can cause little ones to tune out. While absentmindedly smearing cookie crumbs into the couch or stomping in the mud might not be ideal behaviors, they're age-appropriate and overall no big deal. But throwing toys at a baby sister or biting your leg? These are things you'll want to nip in the bud.
Though it's tempting to let your temper flare at times -- say, when your tot decides it would be fun to feed your freshly made cup of coffee to the dog -- it's important to remain calm. Dr. Samuel suggests using a "polite, respectful and positive tone" when making a request of your child. She recommends stating what you want to happen, not the behavior you want stopped. If your child still doesn't do what you've asked, ask again more firmly. If that doesn't work, it's time to impose a relevant consequence. For example, if your little man heaves his toy truck at you, take the truck away for a half hour.
Samuel also recommends using praise as much as possible for positive behaviors. Every time your child complies, praise her: "I like the way you got into your car seat like a big girl" or "I'm proud of the way you're sharing your puzzles." She suggests using reward charts or special treats to reinforce good behavior. Yet another excuse to eat ice cream -- fabulous!
After a misbehavior, Samuel recommends using a technique called "when, then" to teach your tot the impact of her behavior on others: "When you bite Mommy, she feels sad and hurt," or "When you say sorry to Tyler, he feels ready to have fun and play again." She also suggests coming up with a solution to a negative behavior together. For example, if your precious peanut throws a Tasmanian devil-style tantrum when it's time to brush her teeth, you might hatch a plan together to go to the store and find a different flavor of toothpaste or a toothbrush with her favorite cartoon character on it.