When Children of Abuse Become Parents

"Go to timeout, I'm not playing, go to timeout!" says Dawn in one scene. "OK Autumn, no TV tonight or anything. You're about to lose one of your stories. That's it, no Popsicle tonight!"

Reinforcing the Positive

Even appropriate disciplinary measures become ineffective if they are too liberally applied, Kazdin explained.

"You don't just pull out your holster and shoot a timeout at this and then at that," he said. "If you do two timeouts in a day or three timeouts in a day, your program is wrong."

In fact, Kazdin says that punishment -- the one thing most parents reach for in their arsenal -- is not the magic bullet after all.

"Think of that horrible situation, there's someone drowning," said Kazdin. "You could never teach a person how to swim at that point. You have to just contain the situation and get 'em to shore."

The secret weapon that research shows beats yelling, timeouts, correction and any kind of punishment you could possibly throw at your child?

Experts say nothing else gets children to obey like telling them what they are doing right.

"Go in that room and say, you know, 'You guys have been so quiet, this is amazing, you're getting along, that's fantastic. Let's do extra TV tonight,'" said Kazdin. "If you're not doing that, don't even fool with time out, it's a waste of time.

"If you're not reinforcing the positive, you're going to frustrate yourself endlessly."

Watch "Primetime" tonight at 10 p.m. ET to find out how Schiavone, Colquhoune and Dawn changed their approaches to parenting -- and how it worked out. Click HERE for Dr. Alan Kazdin's 10 Tips for Parenting a Defiant Child.

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