IT'S a tough old game growing up and sometimes an even harder job being a parent helping that process along.

I have always worked on the principle that if you treat your child the way that you would like to be treated then you will grow a mutual respect for each other. This is essential when you have to address behaviour that is unacceptable.

A huge part of being that important adult is being available to admire and give encouragement.

Having a structured routine is essential for all of us and you will find your children behaving better when this is the case.

Children are at their most secure when they know the rules and how far they can push these limits. While rules and consistency are are important, flexibility and compromise are essential too - we are all human, after all.

We all switch off when we are nagged to do or stop doing something and children are no different. When you want to gain your child's attention it helps to be close to them, get down to their level, use their name and make eye contact, talk simply and speak calmly, telling them what they should do. Encourage good behaviour by rewarding the good, giving positive attention and praising the behaviour: "What a star you are holding my hand when we are by a busy road."

If behaviour does escalate, concentrate on calming the situation down. Rational reasoning won't apply until you have achieved this.

After anger or punishment, forgive fast and give your child the opportunity to do the right thing.


NEXT WEEK: The power of praise