My two youngest grandchildren, ages eight and nine, recently visited for four days, reminded me that parenting is not an easy job.

Watching my son interact with the children made me renew my thought that all parents should be required to take parenting lessons.  I longed for such a class as a parent and wanted to know how to get children to do what I want them to do without disharmony.  Subsequently, when I became a teacher, I learned to tell which children had parents that were consistently applying discipline and those who were not.

The purpose of this article is to share some of the parenting tricks that I learned.

First, effective parenting is a hard job that require work and sometimes suffering on the part of the parent.  You can’t yell at your child while you are watching a football game or spending hours on end texting and expect the child to conform.  The child knows you will quickly go back to what you were doing.  You must be willing to spend the time needed to cure the problem.

Second, parents need to set limits so that children know exactly what is expected of them.  It starts early, from requiring your child to hold your hand crossing a street and continuing up to the big two – driving and dating!  The book titled “Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, Respectful Boundaries” by Robert J. MacKenzie can help you learn to set limits.

Third, in order to prevent issues, you need to think ahead and be prepared.  For example, children really don’t like to be idle. If you know your children will be in a situation where they must wait while being idle, you need to be prepared with books to read or drawing supplies.  You can also have them play games such as 20 questions.

The trick is to start the activity before they start misbehaving.  Notice, I did not say to pull out the cellular phone and let them play video games.  Most video games do not develop any brain tissues that will be helpful to your children as adults. Remember, your job is to raise your children to be productive.

Fourth, you should have already taught them that there will be consequences and then consistently carry them out.  I was a real whiner as a kid and freely admit it. My mother was really brilliant. She hit on a consequence that I didn’t like.  She sent me to my room and told me I could not come out until I had done two things.

One, I had to figure out what I specifically didn’t like. Then I had to come up with three possible solutions to correct my whining. Once I completed my task, I would come and discuss my solutions with her and she would choose one.  That one act of handling disciplinary a problem was very effective.

First, while I was in my room, my mother was cooling down.  Thus, when she talked with me it wasn’t in anger. Second, I became a great problem solver. Third, I finally learned to not whine. This is one trick which I can pass on to parents that I know will work. Effective parents match the consequences to the seriousness of the bad deed.

Fifth, the parent needs to be an investigator. If your children are misbehaving, you will need to search to find out what the real problem is.  Sometimes, children feel they are not getting enough attention from the parent and feel negative attention is better than no attention. Divorced parents need to be attuned to their children’s needs.  In some cases professional intervention might be needed.

Effective parenting is one the hardest jobs in the world.  If you are having problems with your child’s behavior or the teacher states your child has behavior problems at school, you need to seek help from experts, either from a psychologist, an experienced teacher, from self-help books or effective parents that you know may be willing to give advice.

Your child’s future and yours depends on you taking charge.

Tommy Fairweather is a retired Walton County teacher, who lives in Destin and works at Smarts & Arts on Airport Road in Destin.