I started reading a book by Hal Runkel, called "ScreamFree Parenting." It has really challenged my thought process. I am only halfway through it and don't know if I agree with everything it says, but when I apply the principles it seems to work. Here is the website where you can here about it more, even read the first chapter!
I heard Dr. Runkel promoting the revised version of what I'm reading now (with the same title). What grabbed my attention was his thought that when our emotions escalate with our child's we are giving the emotional reigns to the least mature person in the relationship. Not every person is a screamer, but we often allow our child to "make" us feel a certain way as opposed to deciding for ourselves how we are going to feel and act (not react).
My favorite chapter (so far) introduced "Judo Parenting." It's using the child's emotional momentum to propel them to making their own decisions, and letting them live with the results. And surprisingly, the child is empowered to make better choices. When it comes to disobedience, we give them space to figure out what their choice will be- then act accordingly.
It's about living with the end in mind: adulthood. It's about being focused on our actions/reactions, not our child's. It's actually a good, and interesting, read.
One personal story, then I'll be done. Matt is my four-year-old who has been the most high-maintenance, the one that makes me want to pull my hair out or throw my hands up. I applied the "ScreamFree" principle yesterday when he didn't like a decision I had made and said, "I don't want to talk to you!" I simply said, "okay," and started working on dinner. I respected his space and in less than a minute he started talking to me without the 'tude.
I got the book at the library. Borders doesn't appreciate that, but my wallet sure does. If I need it as a permanent reference, I can get it at Amazon for about $7. And so can you, I suppose :)