The First Rule of Parenting: Your Marriage Comes First
Welcome to Parenting 101 an introduction to the fundamentals of effective child raising.
Upon passing this course, you will have acquired what it takes to raise children who are mannerly, self-disciplined and do their best in school. As you will see, the fundamentals in question do not include various clever means of manipulating reward and punishment.
If you are married with children, put your marriage first. Your relationship with your spouse should be considerably more active than your relationship with your children. You should pay more attention to your spouse, talk more to your spouse, do more for your spouse, and spend more time with your spouse than you pay, talk, do, and spend with your kids. Nothing more effectively secures a child's sense of well-being than knowing his parents are taking care of their relationship.
If you are single with children, have lots of interests outside of your interest in your children. Have hobbies, friends, activities, and a job that take your attention away from your kids. In so doing, you will become interesting to them. They will have greater respect for you, and they will pay you more attention. Married or single, be the center of your children's universe as opposed to letting them be the center of yours.
By the time your kids are 3, you should build a boundary between yourself and them, one that limits their access to you. Let them know that you are not at their beck and call and insist that they respect your privacy.
Say "No" more than you say "Yes." Actually, the proportion should be at least 5 to 1. The only children who can't take "No" for an answer have parents who do not say it often enough and cannot say it with conviction.
The secret to effective discipline is assuming a posture of loving leadership in their lives. Leadership is a simple matter of acting like you (a) know what you're doing, (b) know where you're going, (c) know what you want, and (d) know you are going to get it. That translates to a calm, confident, casual parenting style.