The Simple 'Game' That Can Stop Tantrums Once And For All

Kate Auletta
Discipline should be used as a long-term strategy to shape your kids into the kind of people you want them to be. (czarny_bez via Getty Images)

No parent likes to discipline their child. It tends to be a tedious, loud, tantrum-y process and it’s just no fun. 

Luckily, a new book from Lindsay Powers, the founding editor of Yahoo! Parenting, aims to make this whole parenting thing work best for parents of all stripes.

In “You Can’t F*ck Up Your Kids,” Powers writes that, well, you guessed it ― you can’t fuck up your kids. She tackles hot-button topics, from crying it out to picky eating, screen time to child care preferences. 

Below is an excerpt on discipline from her book, out Tuesday. As part of this chapter, Powers essentially makes the case that discipline is about shaping your kids into the kind of citizens you want to see more of in the world. If that’s not something we need now, then what is?

Continue reading below for the “game” Powers recommends to turn discipline into something a lot less scary and a lot more proactive.

“Discipline usually means punishment, but that should be recast,” says Dr. Alan E. Kazdin, a founder of the Yale Parenting Center and professor of psychology and child psychiatry there. Kazdin has worked with severely aggressive and antisocial children—and families facing everyday issues. His methods are simple—no traveling to Yale or spending big bucks to try them.

First, he asks parents to ask ourselves, “What are the three or four characteristics I want my children to have?” (If you are married or partnered, you should do this exercise together.) For example, how about raising an honest kid? Then first of all, we need to model honest behavior. Then, we need to watch for instances of our child acting honest. When we see an example of that, point it out. That immediately reinforces the behavior and development of the trait as the kid grows up.

Now, Kazdin jokes that this “doesn’t work fast enough” when our kids are losing it in front of an ice cream truck. So he recommends a “tantrum game”— which sounds ridiculous at first, but makes...

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