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") in anger, since not following through could weaken all your threats.

If you threaten to turn the car around and go home if the squabbling in the backseat doesn't stop, make sure you do exactly that.

Here are some ideas about how to vary your approach to discipline to best fit your family. So it's wise to eliminate temptations and no-nos — items such as TVs and video equipment, stereos, jewelry, and especially cleaning supplies and medicines should be kept well out of reach.

When your crawling baby or roving toddler heads toward an unacceptable or dangerous play object, calmly say "No" and either remove your child from the area or distract him or her with an appropriate activity. A child who has been hitting, biting, or throwing food, for example, should be told why the behavior is unacceptable and taken to a designated timeout area — a kitchen chair or bottom stair — for a minute or two to calm down (longer timeouts are not effective for toddlers).

Make good on any promises of discipline or else you risk undermining your authority. This is not to say you can't give second chances or allow a certain margin of error, but for the most part, you should act on what you say.

Be careful not to make unrealistic threats of punishment ("Slam that door and you'll never watch TV again!

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It's important to tell kids what the right thing to do is, not just to say what the wrong thing is.As your child grows and begins to understand the connection between actions and consequences, make sure you start communicating the rules of your family's home.Explain to kids what you expect of them before you punish them for a certain behavior.Remember, getting sent to your room isn't effective if a computer, TV, or games are there.Be sure to consider the length of time that will work best for your child.If you ground your son or daughter for a month, your child may not feel motivated to change behaviors because everything has already been taken away.Kids in this age group — just as with all ages — can be disciplined with natural consequences.For example, instead of saying "Don't jump on the couch," try "Please sit on the furniture and put your feet on the floor." Timeouts and consequences are also effective discipline strategies for this age group.Again, consistency is crucial, as is follow-through.For instance, the first time your 3-year-old uses crayons to decorate the living room wall, discuss why that's not allowed and what will happen if your child does it again (for instance, your child will have to help clean the wall and will not be able to use the crayons for the rest of the day).If the wall gets decorated again a few days later, issue a reminder that crayons are for paper only and then enforce the consequences.

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