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Want to win parenting? 3 behaviors to ignore—and 4 to reinforce instead

2. Kindness. Catch your kids being kind, thoughtful or compassionate and reward them with your attention and praise.

Want to win parenting? 3 behaviors to ignore—and 4 to reinforce instead

Does any of this sound familiar?

You serve your preschooler Cheerios and he throws a fit because even though he said he wanted Cheerios, now he wants waffles. Exhausted and in a rush, you take the Cheerios away and start heating up a waffle.


Your husband asks your daughter to turn off the TV, but she just wants a few more minutes. So she asks permission to watch one extra show. Dad says no. She whines, “Pleaaassseee.” Dad says no again. After an endless and exasperating back and forth, she huffs and says, “Fine, can I just have five more minutes?” Dad agrees to the compromise.

Your daughter is frustrated because you won’t let her go out to the park without her shoes on. She’s mad and she wants mama to know it. So she yells and cries and stomps her feet. She even adds in, “You’re a mean mommy!” You’ve had enough of her behavior, so you go into her room and give a long lecture on respect.

These scenarios happen in varying forms in households across the map. Parents try to do the best they can. They all want to raise well-fed, well-behaved kids who grow up to be successful and happy adults.

Unfortunately, much of the effort parents put forth to meet these goals fails to improve the behavior. In fact, in some cases, it might be making it worse.

Kids are perceptive beings. Even if they can’t tie their shoes or solve an algebraic equation, they’re pretty good at knowing how to get what they want and how to avoid what they don’t want.

A lot of the time, when kids act up they get rewarded with attention or a cookie or an extra television show. Or they get out of taking a bath or eating carrots. Sometimes, a parent might even yell at them. It doesn’t matter. Yelling and admonishing can be a reward if the goal is to get a rise out of the parent.

That’s why, when parents change the way they handle behavior, children quickly realize their old tricks no longer work.

Behavior that is rewarding in any way will be repeated. Behavior that has no benefit will go away.

Why bother throwing a tantrum for a waffle if the waffle never comes? Why spew fresh comments at your parents if those comments have no impact? And why beg and negotiate for more television if, after all of those theatrics, the answer remains a steadfast, “No”?

The problem is that, instead of reinforcing the behavior they desire, parents sometimes waste their energies on reinforcing the wrong behaviors.

Here are the top 3 things parents can ignore in an attempt at trying to stop reinforcing bad behavior.

1. Whining

Kids usually whine because they know it touches a parental nerve. When parents turn annoyed they often try to discipline. But usually it doesn’t work. Kids end up thinking that whining will score them some attention. And when parents aren’t in the mood to deal with the whining, they tend to give in to the demands.

2. Negotiating

When parents negotiate with their children, they can expect everything to be up for arbitration. How about three carrots instead of seven? Two stories at bedtime instead of one? Ten more minutes of screen time? No will never be no.

3. Provoking behavior

Kids say mean things or push our buttons because we react. That’s the goal. When children are upset with their parents they oftentimes want their parents to be upset too. So they lash out. And parents often take the bait. I understand the difficulty of merely turning the other cheek when our offspring scream cruelties our way, but trust me and ignore.

Here are the top 4 behaviors you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Listening

If you want your kids to listen when you talk, provide some positive reinforcement when they are hearing and responding appropriately to you.

2. Kindness

This one is easily overlooked. Catch your kids being kind, thoughtful or compassionate and reward them with your attention and praise.

3. Hard work

Have you ever worked hard on a project and your boss barely noticed? It doesn’t feel good. Notice when the kids are working hard on something. Never mind the result. Reward the effort.

4. Follow through

Parents expect kids to empty the dishwasher or walk the dog. They don’t think they have to say thank you or even mention it. But if parents don’t notice the good stuff, kids will find other less desirable ways to get the attention. Instead, compliment kids when they do what they are asked to do.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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