TODAY   |  March 14, 2012

Get your kids to cooperate without arguing

Parenting expert Susan Stiffelman suggests techniques to squelch family squabbling and bolster good behavior among your children.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> children really know how to push their parents' buttons to a point where they give in or they argue, pretty much.

>> yes, but susan is the author of "parenting without power struggles." she says you can raise your child without battles by following her techniques. where were you when i needed you?

>> where was i when i needed you?

>> we talk so much about parenting and how we feel like the kids rule the roost.

>> asylum.

>> yeah, when you're watching how parents deal with their kids, clearly they're not the ones in charge.

>> no, and we need to be. our kids want and need us to be what i call the captain of the ship.

>> we're doing them a disservice. we love our children so much. if you really love them, then discipline them, right?

>> because the truth is we're not raising children. we're raising adults.

>> well, show us some good techniques.

>> three things.

>> hand signals . hand signals .

>> so this represents the parent. the parent in charge. and this is the child. this is how it's supposed to go where the child says, i want some cake. sweetie, not right now. why not? watch carefully. yes, i will. no, i gave you cake last night and you didn't eat. but that's because this is where you have the pushing and the pushing back. nobody's in charge. i call this the two lawyers.

>> yes.

>> and then it goes worse. if you don't give me cake, i'm not going to do my homework. yes, you are.

>> they become the dominant one.

>> and down here the way you know you're here is you're bribing and threatening and nobody's in charge. that's where you're not at your best parenting.

>> show us how it should be.

>> same scenario.

>> i want some cake. sweetie, i know. the cake's really good. can i have some? i'm afraid not. why not? whatever reason i give you isn't going to make sense right now, but it's really yummy, i get it, and maybe we'll talk about when you can have cake and you can make another one. you're not engaging. you're not participating or pushing or pushing back.

>> but you are giving them hope.

>> seems to me it's not as decisive enough.

>> that's if they're not pushing against you. if they're really nuts and stirred up, you don't give any hope. it's not that you're not giving hope, you're just saying i know you want it. it's great cake. it tasted so good, but you're not engaging in the power struggle . you're staying disengaged.

>> you may have dessert after you've had your full dinner.

>> you can say that, but you don't want to need their push. sometimes we train our kids how to push and push and push to get what they want.

>> what about when you're totally exhausted? you know what i mean ? you're tired, it's the end of the day . when you need a piece of cake . just eat it.

>> here's the way that you hold this place. you make it your idea. i was about to give you cake. i can't believe it! you read my mind !

>> oh, so then you festeal the power?

>> you manipulate them. i like that.

>> then they know their place.

>> when your child is very frustrated --

>> usually it's because they're tired.

>> a lot of times they're at the end of the day .

>> what do you do in that kind of situation?

>> you stay calm. you slow down. you address the root of what's going on by just getting them to nod their head or say yes at least three times. you really -- you know, you really were hoping i would give you a free pass on the homework. you really don't want to do it. i get it. and you just don't engage in the pushing. but you acknowledge what's underneath it.

>> i think that's an important point. acknowledging that your feelings are your feelings.

>> sure.

>> and you have the right to them. however, mine are more important than yours.

>> all right. there's a lot of great stuff in your book.