Dear Diana, Our 5-year-old does things that he knows he isn’t supposed to do. Last week, he jumped on our bed, and knocked over a glass of water from my night table. When I heard the crash, I ran into the room, saw the glass, and said if he hadn’t been jumping on the bed, he wouldn’t have broken the glass. He said there wouldn’t be a glass to break if I had put it away in the dishwasher. He’s right! How do I raise a child who challenges me, negotiates, and is often correct with his responses? Last week, when I told him to buckle up in his booster, he refused, because I didn’t use the word please. I’m so confused.

Dear Diana, Our 5-year-old does things that he knows he isn’t supposed to do. Last week, he jumped on our bed, and knocked over a glass of water from my night table. When I heard the crash, I ran into the room, saw the glass, and said if he hadn’t been jumping on the bed, he wouldn’t have broken the glass. He said there wouldn’t be a glass to break if I had put it away in the dishwasher. He’s right! How do I raise a child who challenges me, negotiates and is often correct with his responses? Last week, when I told him to buckle up in his booster, he refused, because I didn’t use the word please. I’m so confused.

Dear Confused Mom, It sounds like your son is confused with who is in charge. It also sounds as if he has an answer for everything — and answers to no one. What he needs to learn is that you are the parent, you determine the rules, and you will determine the rewards, as well as the consequences.

It’s time to pull on the reins, and set boundaries — right now. Teach outside of the event. Talk to him when you have your thoughts together, expectations determined, and your new rules ready. Explain everything simply and carefully. Let him know that his answers have been disrespectful, so you will help him to learn to answer with a, “Yes, Mom,” which is a replacement behavior. Do not be confused. Face this head on — with determination.

In order to change his behavior, you will need to recognize and reinforce all of his positive efforts. Introduce an Incentive Jar, where he earns magic stones (or marbles) for great behavior. Every time that he answers with a, “Yes, Mom,” reinforce it with a magic stone. Use encouraging words with a statement of what he did, and add a brief, connective, physical touch on his arm or back. If you’ve told him to put his bike away, and he said, “Yes, Mom,” and then did it, follow up with, “I noticed you put your bike in the garage.” Then, provide a stone, and a hug.

He needs to know the rules, and he needs to know that those rules will be reinforced. Many parents spank their child when trying to stop a behavior. That may stop it in the moment, but it usually happens again, because it doesn’t teach a new, desired behavior, and it often provokes feelings of anger and retaliation. Teaching outside the event, in a calm atmosphere, with a level head, can reach and teach a child who is also calm and able to listen. Talk to him often about what you expect and how proud you are of the good things he has said or done. Just as you have told him how you will reward his great behavior, let him know what his consequence will be for disobeying, or being rude; that you will remove him, and he will be isolated until the problem is resolved and he takes responsibility.

When you are in the moment, with a broken glass of spilled water for example, remove him immediately to his room, without speaking, or addressing his rude remark (that it was your fault for leaving the glass there). Enforce a timeout. When his timeout is over, and you are calm, take him back to your room with the vacuum — and help him to clean it up. Next, address his rude comment, letting him know that jumping on the bed is not allowed — ever — and the glass broke because he broke that rule.

With consistency, determination, clear rules, natural consequences, and plenty of positive reinforcement, you should soon see a positive change in his behavior. He just needs to know who is in charge.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources at her website, www.yourperfectchild.com.