MORE PRE-CHOSEN CONSEQUENCES
Pick a time after the kids are down for the night, or with grandma, sit down with your spouse and your favorite drink, and play a game of parental "What will we do when..." (We could say "if" but eventually kids try just about everything once.)
What will we do when...he won't clean up his toys?
What will we do when...he refuses to eat his dinner?
What will we do when...she gets caught texting after lights out?
Pick a handful of the most common offenses happening in your home, or that you foresee happening in the near future. Discuss some age appropriate options for consequences and agree upon one for each scenario. Then write them down and post them on your fridge or someplace the whole family can see them. Go over them together as a family the next day. Now everyone can get their expectations on the same page.
LESS EMOTIONAL REACTIONS
How many great decisions have you made in life when you were frustrated, angry, irritated, tired, stressed, or overwhelmed? Exactly. As a matter of fact, short of divine intervention, "in the moment" is generally the time when the most damage is done by parents. Yuck.
The best parenting is done in what we call emotional neutral. And because we are human, and can't live in that gear all the time, we need to make our important decisions about how we treat our children when we are calm and able to access wisdom.
A consequence chart, like we described above, helps this immensely. But,if it's a new behavior, and not a safety issue, it is okay to just observe the first time and pretend you didn't see it. I can heartily assure you, he or she will do it again. This gives you time to think, seek counsel, talk with your spouse and CHOOSE how you will respond to that behavior next time.