If your children are behaving badly, there are some things that you can stop doing which will help. Sometimes what you do not do is as important as what you do do.
Do not laugh at them when they misbehave. For many of us, it doesn't feel like long ago that we were the ones misbehaving and rolling around on the floor laughing. If you want your children to behave better than you did, then you have to stop laughing at them. It can actually be pretty funny when your child pulls his pants down in the middle of the Petco car park but do not let your child see you laughing, if they see you, they will do it again. After the first time, it will not be as funny.
Do not over-excite them right before bedtime. After they have their evening bath try to create a calm tranquil environment where they get dressed in soft light and read them cosy stories. Do not make up a "dry your body" song and encourage them to run around the house naked until they are dry. This is not conducive to an early bedtime. When you are ready for them to stop the craziness and calm down, they may not be ready.
Do not threaten to take something off them or punish them in some way and then forget or change your mind. This will teach them that they do not really need to listen to you and that you do not really mean what you say. If you absolutely have to backtrack then make sure you explain your decision to them thoroughly so that they know you mean business and that in the future they will not get away with whatever they did.
Do not punish them by canceling playdates with the offspring of your best friends. If you have been looking forward to the meet-up all week you are punishing yourself as well as them. If you must take away a privilege, take away one which won't affect you too much, you are not the one who has been misbehaving.
Do not use rude words in front of them or expose them to bad language if you do not want them to repeat the language at the top of their voices in the supermarket or at preschool. You do not have a leg to stand on. If they do shout something rude in public, remember, do not laugh.
As a parent we have to learn to control some of our impulses if we want our children to listen to us and treat us as parents not as equals. You can still laugh and have fun with your children, it is about picking the right and wrong times to laugh along with them.
This is the third in my series of "What NOT to do" articles.