Helping parents practice positive discipline

Dr. Tamar Jacobson is one of the nation's leading experts in early childhood education.
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It's said to be the most important job in the world, but there's no manual, no training and no supervisor to answer questions when it comes to being a parent.

School's out for summer, and for many families, that means more time together. Hopefully, that means more fun, but for some families it also means more stress.

Stephanie Smith and her husband Marshall have two boys, Connor and Flynn.

"It's funny because that fun and stress are kind of right here together, which I never thought that they would be so close," she said.

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Smith says summer can be a crazy, wild ride, and it can sometimes be hard to navigate. She says shes constantly striving to do better.

"I wish people could be real about how hard it is," she said. "I feel like I'm a lifelong learner now after being a mom."

That's why she was in the audience of University City High School to hear from one of the nation's leading experts in early childhood education, Dr. Tamar Jacobson.

Jacobson says people usually parent the way they were parented, which is something parents should always have in mind. Behaviors such as teasing, sarcasm and spanking are all on her list of behaviors not to mimic.

Her "to-dos" include choosing consequences that make sense, choosing your battles, taking a parent time out before reacting to a child's behavior, and just being kind.

And mistakes will happen, she says.

"It's hard with children. They're emotional and need us so desperately and we can't always be on," she said. "Not everything you do is going to harm your child for life."

She says it helps to simply say sorry. That's something Smith does when she feels she got it wrong. Because she says saying sorry is something she wants her boys to do.

"I want them to be kind and empathetic and just good people," she said.

And the best way to teach is by example.

Dr. Jacobson is a professor at Rider University in New Jersey. She has also authored two popular books on early childhood education and discipline.