From temper tantrums to chores…controlling your child’s behaviour can be nerve-wracking, to say the least! You know you should set boundaries, but you also believe in positive parenting, so how do you juggle both responsibilities? From screaming kids in the supermarket to constant arguments over bedtime, Karen Phillip has the answers.

With over 20 years’ experience as a mother, family counsellor and family dispute resolution practitioner, Karen Phillip has released her new book ‘Who runs your house? The kids or you?’ Read on for Karen’s top five tips to make life easier for the family:


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1. Say yes in a way to still get what you want but to reinforce positive behaviour
‘Yes’ is a great word and can be used to our advantage. Saying yes can deflate a situation because it is a pause word.  When a child hears yes, they have to stop to hear what you are saying yes to. That being said, we should not say yes to things we do not agree with or do not want to give our children. We need to say yes to the part of something to appease their demands. When they ask for a treat from the shop you can reply with “Yes, I can hear how much you would like that treat now, however, not right now, and, yes, I will think about it for you.”

2. Give your child two choices to give them the feeling that they have control of their life
By giving your child a choice on certain matters, you can assist them to feel they have in fact made the choice when sometimes it is more of a direction from the parent. E.g. “You can choose not to eat your lunch and go into your room without lunch or playing outside OR you can eat your lunch now and then go outside to play. It doesn’t actually bother me which one you choose sweetie. What do you choose?” Always remember to place the one you want them to choose last so it remains more in the mind.  By giving the child two choices the child believes it was his/her decision and the child will feel good because they were allowed the opportunity to choose themselves.

3. How to stop and control tantrums
Never give in to their demands, hold your ground! If you cave in and give them that treat that caused them to scream and shout in the middle of the supermarket then you have set the precedent and they will continue to act like this to get what they want. If you see the tantrum about to start warn your child that if they ‘chuck a wobbly’ then x or y will happen and STICK to what you promised.  If your child is throwing a tantrum or acting badly, then put the child in his/her room with the door closed.  Make sure the child has nothing to play with.  If the child continually tries to leave the room, put a lock on the door, YES it is allowed.  This will show the child that you are serious and the child will remember this is the punishment for bad behaviour.

4. Children model behaviour so parents need to be aware of their own conduct
Children are moulded and influenced by their environment.  The general rule is never yell at a child for yelling, never smack a child for hitting and never bite a child for biting.  It is important for children to see people get angry.  However, what is more important is that they see what you do when you are angry and how you manage those feelings and emotions.  This rule applies to your partner, your relationship with him/her and the interaction between you both that your child sees.

5. Ensure you explain clearly and simply to your children the rules, boundaries and consequences
All children need to have clear instructions of what is expected of them.  If you set a rule ask the child what they understand that rule to mean. If they are old enough, ask them if they feel the rule is fair or reasonable.  Rather than ask them to ‘tidy their room,’ which they could interpret differently, instead ask them ‘Would you please pick up all your toys and put them in the correct containers, then place them on the shelf.’

For more information on Karen Phillip and her new book, visit

What are your best tips for controlling your kids?