Tips for Parents

  • Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Take time to exercise, read, nap or work on a special project to recharge your batteries.
  • Use words that help, not words that hurt. You are a mirror for your children. They believe what you say about them.
  • Rules help children feel secure. Without limits children do not know where they stand and what they are supposed to do.
  • Help children feel good about their successes with ‘you’ messages. In addition to “I am proud of you,” try “You really worked hard on that, I bet that makes you feel proud,” as well.
  • Children are never too old to be told they are loved. Say it or write it in a note that your child can keep.

How Do Great Parents…

1. Play


(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Follow your child’s lead.
  • Pace at your child’s level.
  • Don’t expect too much — give your child time.
  • Don’t compete with your child.
  • Praise and encourage your child’s ideas and creativity; don’t criticize.
  • Engage in role play and make-believe with your child.
  • Be an attentive and appreciative audience.
  • Use descriptive comment instead of asking questions.
  • Curb your desire to give too much help; encourage your child’s problem solving.
  • Reward quiet play with you attention.
  • Laugh and have fun.
2. Encourage Learning

Encourage Your Child’s Learning

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Take an active interest in your child’s play and school activities.
  • Play, read, or do a learning activity with your child every day.
  • Praise and encourage your child’s “efforts” in the right direction (not just the end product.)
  • Set up tangible reward programs for doing the small steps it takes to learn something new or difficult.
  • Be enthusiastic about your child’s school projects.
  • Start with easy learning activities and gradually increase the challenge as your child seems ready.
  • Be realistic about your expectations — follow your child’s lead in terms of what he/she is developmentally ready for.
  • Focus on your child’s strengths not his/her weaknesses.
  • Share something that was hard for you to learn.
  • Project a positive image of your child’s ability in the future.
3. Build Self-Confidence

Building Your Child’s Self Confidence

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Value and give your full attention to your children’s play activities.
  • Listen to your children — watch for times when your child is open to talking — don’t pressure them to talk if they don’t want to.
  • Reinforce your children’s learning efforts by describing what they are doing.
  • Praise your children’s efforts as well as their successes.
  • Follow your child’s lead when talking with them or playing.
  • Spend regular daily time with your children.
  • When reading
    • Ask open-ended questions;
    • Avoid commands and corrections;
    • Offer help when your child wants it.
  • Create opportunities for children to retell stories that they have memorized.
  • Encourage children to write their own stories or to dictate them to you.
  • Read to children often and allow them to see you reading.
  • Encourage children to make up stories and act them out.
4. Praise


(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Catch your child being good — don’t save praise for perfect behavior.
  • Don’t worry about spoiling your children with praise.
  • Increase praise for difficult children.
  • Model self-praise.
  • Give labeled and specific praise.
  • Make praise contingent on behavior.
  • Praise with smiles, eye contant and enthusiasm.
  • Give positive praise.
  • Give pats and hugs and kisses along with praise.
  • Use praise consistently.
  • Praise in front of other people.
5. Develop Tangible Rewards

Tangible Rewards

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Define appropriate child behavior clearly.
  • Make the steps small.
  • Gradually increase the challenge.
  • Don’t make programs too complex — choose one or two behaviors to start.
  • Focus on positive behaviors.
  • Choose inexpensive rewards.
  • Have daily rewards.
  • Involve your child in choosing rewards.
  • Get the appropriate behavior first, then reward.
  • Reward everyday achievements.
  • Gradually replace rewards with social approval.
  • Be clear and specific about rewards.
  • Have a varied menu.
  • Show your child you expect success.
  • Don’t mix rewards with punishment.
  • Consistently monitor the reward program.
6. Set Limits

Setting Limits

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Don’t give unnecessary commands.
  • Give one command at a time.
  • Be realistic in your expectations and use age-appropriate commands.
  • Use “do” commands.
  • Make commands positive and polite.
  • Don’t use “stop” commands.
  • Give children ample opportunity to comply.
  • Give warnings and helpful reminders.
  • Don’t threaten children; use “when-then” commands.
  • Give children options whenever possible.
  • Make commands short and to the point.
  • Support your partner’s commands.
  • Praise compliance or provide consequences for noncompliance.
  • Strike a balance between parent and child control.
  • Encourage problem solving with children.
7. Implement Time Outs

Time Out

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Be polite.
  • Be prepared for testing.
  • Monitor anger in order to avoid exploding suddenly; give warnings.
  • Give 5-minute Time Outs with 2 minutes of silence at the end.
  • Carefully limit the number of behaviors for which Time Out is used and use consistently.
  • Use Time Out consistently for chosen behaviors.
  • Don’t threaten Time Out unless you’re prepared to follow through.
  • Ignore child while in Time Out.
  • Use nonviolent approaches such as loss of privileges as a back-up to Time Out.
  • Follow through with completing Time Out.
  • Hold children responsible for cleaning messes in Time Out.
  • Support a partner’s use of Time Out.
  • Don’t rely exclusively on Time Out — combine with other discipline techniques, such as logical consequences and problem solving.
  • Expect repeated learning trials.
  • Build up bank account with praise, love, and support.
  • Use personal Time Out to relax and refuel energy.
  • Use Time Out for destructive behaviors and times when you’re child’ misbehavior cannot be ignored.  Start by choosing just one behavior to work on.  When that behavior is no longer a problem, choose another behavior to work on.
  • Give immediate Time Out for hitting and destructive acts.  However, for noncompliance, one warning may be given.
  • Ignore inappropriate behaviors, such as screaming, whining, teasing, arguing, swearing, and tantrums.
  • Praise positive behavior as often as possible.
8: Develop Natural and Logical Consequences

Natural and Logical Consequences

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Make consequences age-appropriate.
  • Be sure you can live with consequences you set up.
  • Make consequences immediate.
  • Give child choice of consequence ahead of time.
  • Make consequence natural and nonpunitive.
  • Involve child whenever possible.
  • Be friendly and polite.
  • Use consequences that are short and to the point.
  • Quickly offer new learning opportunities to be successful.
9: Manage Stress and Anger

Stress and Anger

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Scan your body for tension, and breathe and relax.
  • Notice any negative self-statements and replace them with soothing self-encouragement.
  • Ask yourself if what is making you feel tense is really that important? Will it make a difference a week from now? A year? When you are 70?
  • Visualize some marvelous past event or dream of the future.
  • In the middle of conflict, breathe, cool off, get playful, or get away for a few minutes.
  • Take a break (go for a walk, take a bath, read a magazine.)
10. Problem Solve

Problem- Solving

(material provided by The Incredible Years, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.)

  • Talk about feelings.
  • Help children define problem.
  • Involve children in brainstorming possible solutions.
  • Be positive and imaginative.
  • Model creative solutions yourself.
  • Encourage children to think through various consequences of different solutions.
  • Remember it is the process of learning how to think about conflict that is critical, rather than getting correct answers.
11. Family Problem Solve

Family Problem-Solving

  • Schedule a meeting to problem-solve.
  • Focus on one problem at a time.
  • Collaborate, discussing problems mutually.
  • State problem clearly.
  • Express feelings but don’t criticize or blame.
  • Admit role in problem.
  • Be future-oriented.
  • Be brief.
  • State desire behavior.
  • Make “I” statements.

Stating the Goal

  • Summarize the problem.
  • State the goal in realistic terms.


  • Remain open-don’t judge or criticize suggestions.
  • Encourage imaginative suggestions- as many as possible.
  • Postpone details

Making Plans

  • Review your list.
  • Evaluate each solution realistically.
  • Write down plan.
  • Praise your efforts.