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ways to become a more authoritative parent

Admit Your Mistakes

The first step is acknowledging your part in the problem, says Brown Braun — to both yourself and to your children. Be honest about the fact that you’ve let them dodge chores or mouth off in the past. “Don’t turn it into a finger-wagging session,” she says. “It’s not about blame; it’s about you saying, ‘I’ve allowed you to talk to me that way or not help with the dishes for years, but now that’s over.’ You’re giving kids a heads-up and letting them know what changes are ahead.”

Come Up With A Plan

For me, chores are the hot-button issue. For moms like Kim DeVigil, of Denver, it’s bedtime. The mother of four girls (twins age 9, plus an 11- and a 13-year-old) says, “Every night I get home from work at 7 P.M . and say, ‘Tonight we’re going to bed early.’ But getting four tweens ready for bed is a lot like herding cats. Even when I’m aiming for 9 P.M., it’s usually 10:30 by the time they’re all in bed.”

Stop Yelling

I’ve often regretted how much I’ve hollered at my kids. I tend to let things slide and then explode when they finally push me over the limit — the absolutely wrong way to go, says Bradley, because kids can tune out the low-level nagging and only listen when you screech. That means they never learn internal motivation. “When a parent asks, ‘Did you take the trash out?’ over and over, it’s like an alarm clock set on snooze,” he says. “The first three times it goes off don’t count. When the clock — or parent — finally goes insane, the kid knows he’d better get moving.” Obviously, there’s got to be a better way.