Follow-through can greatly reduce frustration and conflict with children while teaching them many positive life skills. Follow-through means parents decide what they are going to do and then follow through with kind and firm action instead of lectures and punishment.
When you use words, keep the message short- ten words or less- and stick to the issue. One word can be very effective. For example, when a child under six is refusing to go to bed, get up without saying a word, go to the child, take her by the hand, and kindly and firmly lead her to the bedroom saying, “Bedtime.” If the child resists, give a limited choice, “Do you want to pick out your bedtime story or do you want me to? We have until 8:00 to read your story.” If the child still resists, you are in the a power struggle and need to back off and deal with the power struggle by letting consequences occur.
What does the child learn? That what she does has a logical consequence; that you mean what you say and will follow through with firm and kind action. The child is learning about responsibility. She has a choice to get ready for bed quickly and have time for a longer story or get ready slowly and have less time for a story or none at all. One of the greatest gifts for a child is the opportunity to learn about treating oneself and others with dignity and respect, which you so beautifully demonstrated.
Nelson, J., Lott, L., & Glenn, H.S. Positive Discipline A to Z: 101 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems. California: Prima Publishing, 1993