4 Weeks to a Better-Behaved Child: Breakthrough Discipline Techniques That Really Work


Praise for Four Weeks to a Better-Behaved Child

"An invaluable resource for parents in their attempts to find the most effective ways of disciplining their children."
—Robert Brooks, Ph.D., faculty, Harvard Medical School, and author of Raising Resilient Children

"Cristine Chandler has developed an easy-to-read, step-by-step approach that will make you pause before trying time-out and other time-honored but ineffective techniques of ...

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Four Weeks to a Better-Behaved Child: Breakthrough Discipline Techniques that Really Work

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Praise for Four Weeks to a Better-Behaved Child

"An invaluable resource for parents in their attempts to find the most effective ways of disciplining their children."
—Robert Brooks, Ph.D., faculty, Harvard Medical School, and author of Raising Resilient Children

"Cristine Chandler has developed an easy-to-read, step-by-step approach that will make you pause before trying time-out and other time-honored but ineffective techniques of discipline."
—Myrna Shure, Ph.D., author of Raising a Thinking Child and Thinking Parent, Thinking Child

"An informative and easy-to-read guide for parents. The four Cs to discipline offer a clear strategy for raising well-behaved and resilient children."
—Nicholas Long, Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and coauthor of Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

Shouting, talking back, hitting, and slamming doors are not unusual behaviors for small children, but they don't have to be a way of life either. Four Weeks to a Better-Behaved Child is based on the positive premise that children behave well when they understand clearly what is expected of them and are held accountable. Here you'll discover:

  • How to encourage your child to turn desirable behaviors into regular habits
  • How to discourage your child from repeating unwanted behaviors
  • When and why certain discipline techniques work (or fail to work)
  • The Cool Down technique, and why it's more effective than Time Out
  • The four Cs of discipline: clear, consistent, contingent, consequences
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071435758
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/21/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 949,883
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Cristine Chandler, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with more than 25 years of experience. Her private practice focuses on families and children, and about half of her clients come to her to address discipline issues. She lives in Philadelphia.

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Read an Excerpt


Breakthrough Discipline Techniques that Really Work

By Cristine Chandler, Laura McGrath

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2012The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-143575-8



Why Children Need Discipline

Emily pounded the floor, wailing and crying. Between ragged breaths, she sobbed, "You're always yelling at me. I'm always in trouble, but I don't know why."

As children grow and develop, their needs change. They need increasing amounts of freedom to make decisions, ways to express their individuality, appropriate places to make messes, new kinds of reassurance, and at times, astonishing quantities of food!

One fundamental principle, however, does not change: throughout their growing-up years, children need consistent structure. This enables them to feel secure and behave appropriately. When routines are established for eating meals, going to bed, finishing homework, and doing chores, the children know what to expect and they respond accordingly—most of the time. Likewise, when consistent expectations are set regarding how they must behave and interact with others, children feel more comfortable and are more likely to act appropriately. Conversely, children who experience inconsistent expectations simply do not know how to behave their best. As a result, they try out a variety of behaviors, including undesirable ones.

In addition to a certain sense of security, another important positive effect results from providing children with clear standards of behavior: social acceptance. Although parents tend to focus on their own children's sweetness and to excuse their misdeeds, other people do not see misbehaving children through the same soft-hued lenses. Thus, children who are allowed to misbehave experience negative reactions from others around them. For young children, the consequences may not be too substantial. But as youngsters grow to school age, friends, teachers, and others expect them to behave in socially acceptable ways. When they do not, they may be ostracized by their peers and get in trouble with teachers and others in charge.

When these children are allowed to continue such habits unchecked, they can have more serious difficulty later on with authority figures, and frequently act out—sometimes in destructive or self-destructive ways. Misbehaving children who are bullied by their peers, scolded by their teachers, or chastised by other adults miss having the reaffirming social experiences that add to their sense of security and well-being, and that help them grow into successful, contented adults.

The Need for Consistency

Especially when they become old enough to understand the concept of rules, children both want and need clear expectations and rules for their behavior. They also want these to be the same for other members of their family. Although children sometimes cannot manage or "regulate" their behavior to meet all of these rules and expectations, they find it comforting to have a standard of behavior set for them. Children want, more than anything else, to please their parents; therefore, they usually strive to behave in ways that are expected of them, if these are made clear.

Creating and applying rules consistently is, of course, far easier said than done. Many families can establish a reasonably regular household schedule and routine, although this may be harder when both parents hold jobs and sometimes are required to travel or meet other responsibilities as well. What many parents find far more difficult, however, is to apply discipline consistently. One common symptom of the breakdown in consistency is when parents make excuses for their child's misbehavior. They may say she was naughty because she was tired, or hungry, or overstimulated, or bored, or ate sugar, or is going through a phase, or ... ! But what children really want and need is to have the same rules apply under all those circumstances and others besides. Parents must decide on the most appropriate response to their child's misbehavior in context of the circumstances that influence it. The child needs to learn, however, that the standards of behavior are not adjusted on a whim. She needs to learn that she is expected to behave according to established rules even when she is tired, hungry, overstimulated, or bored.

Of course, the child needs to see her parents likewise hold themselves accountable to the same standards under varying circumstances. Will parents behave consistently all the time? Of course not. Parents experience stress, too. They get tired, hungry, overstimulated, bored, and maybe even go through phases! Moreover, they must deal with other significant pressures compounding their stress. They must pay the bills, get the furnace fixed, wash the clothes, manage a household and their jobs, and worry over their children's, their parents', or their own illnesses—the list is endless. So, of course, parents will not establish and maintain perfect, consistent compliance with rules for their children or themselves. But to the extent that they can, they provide their children with one of life's most important foundations—a sense of security, and a pattern of if-then thinking that will enable the children to regulate their own behavior throughout their lives.

Most parents find it challenging to develop and maintain rules and expectations that are appropriate to each child in the family as well as to the various circumstances that influence the whole family every day. Their job becomes even more challenging because, of course, neither children nor the parents themselves are frozen in time. Children grow, circumstances change, and the rules must change with them. Among other things, rules must allow for the growth of children's cognitive abilities. Children need to learn the relationship between their behavior and consequences, and they can develop this understanding only when the rules grow along with them.

For example, a city-dwelling parent may make an inflexible rule for a two-year- old: he must never go into the street without holding Mom or Dad's hand. After he turns four, Mom and Dad change the rule to recognize his growing ability: he no longer has to hold hands, but he must never go in the street without Mom or Dad. The rule for the six-year-old prepares him for future independence: Mom or Dad still must accompany him, but now he is required to look both ways to watch for oncoming cars. At age eight, he may be allowed to cross the street after looking both ways—as long as Mom or Dad is watching. When he is ten, the child may be allowed to cross certain streets after telling Mom or Dad where he is going, but other roads may still be too dangerous for him to cross alone. In each case, the rule is based on the child's ability to understand and apply it. The two-year-old cannot control his own behavior, so the rule is simple and absolute, whereas the ten-year-old is skilled at reasoning and can apply a rule that allows him to use his own judgment.

The rules are also influenced by many other factors—other children in the family; other caregivers who administer the rules; moving to a different neighborhood; friends, neighbors, and schools with different rules; and other aspects of daily life. Given the multiple, and sometimes conflicting, factors that affect discipline, it is no surprise that parents find it difficult to apply appropriate rules consistently. The sands constantly shift under their feet. As their children grow, the transitions in ability and readiness are not always clear. Extenuating circumstances occur—and often at the worst possible times. So the parents' job is not entirely clear-cut and certainly not easy. Nonetheless, if parents can hold to the big picture and maintain consistency as best as they possibly can, they will do well by their children.

If Children Want Discipline, Why Do They Test Limits?

As deeply as children desi

Excerpted from Four Weeks to a BETTER-BEHAVED CHILD by Cristine Chandler. Copyright © 2012 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents




Dear Parents ...          


1 Why Children Need Discipline          

2 Anger: A Pitfall Even for Conscientious Parents          

3 Consequences: The Foundation for Discipline          

4 The Four Behavioral Principles of Discipline          

5 Using Positive Reinforcement in a 4-Cs System of Discipline          

6 "Why Can't I Just Give Him a Toy?" and Other Questions Parents Ask About
the Learned Rewards System          

7 No Reply and Cool Down: Discipline Techniques That Teach Children How to
Manage Their Own Behavior          

8 Cool Down: What If ...?          

9 Putting It All Together: Achieving the Final "C"          

Appendix: How Basic Developmental Abilities at Each Age Impact Discipline


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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2004

    Discipline that Works!

    Cristine Chandler lays out a very simple, easy-to-follow program for achieving cooperation and compliance from children. She convincingly demonstrates why the escalating anger model (which described much of my interaction with my kids) does not work, and she offers some techniques that do work. I have been employing all of her methods for the past several weeks, and I can honestly say that there has been a real change for the better in how I interact with my children. There has been a major reduction in the number of temper tantrums (from both my kids and myself!) since we started implementing her techniques, and a lot less screaming all around. Out of all the parenting books I've read (and I've read A LOT), this is one of the very few I would recommend to all my friends with kids.

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