Greensboro, NC -- If you're a parent, you've been there. If you're not a parent, you've seen them: the temper tantrums, the meltdowns, and the "kidzilla."
No matter what age, kids know what they want.
"Ninety-nine percent of our problems are the four of them vying for attention," said Jenn Duke, a mother of four.
Dr. Lane Anderson, a marriage and family therapist, said that's always what kids want, a parent's attention.
"When children try to stand you down and try to argue, or throw a tantrum, they're deliberately trying to manipulate you with guilt, and trying to make you feel like a mean gorilla. Even if that little lip comes out and tears start to come down, that is a guilt trip. They know what they're doing," said Anderson.
Anderson said when it comes to kids, there's no "one size fits all" tantrum remedy, but it's a parent's job to sideline a child when need be.
"The parents are the refs. They're in charge of the game. They make the rules. They enforce the rules, which means consequences," said Anderson.
Anderson said parents need to stay in control.
"They always do it when someone else is around, to embarrass you, or to get your attention, that negative attention thing," said Janet Schilling, who has three kids.
"If I overreact, it makes matters worse," said Schilling.
Anderson said, that's the right idea.
"If you can't control yourself, how are you going to control the children?" he said. "If you internalize that and take it personally, you're going to react. And if your voice starts to rise, and you start being disrespectful back, you've lost control of the situation. That child is now in control of you. Don't ever let them see you sweat."
According to Anderson, parents also have to lay out the consequences.
"That way, there are no surprises. There's no upset. You did know. When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences," said Anderson.
Anderson said even if kids are too young to understand being "grounded," they can still understand consequences.
"Little kids can understand verbal direction. Even though they can't put syntax and language together, they can understand by your look, your directness. You have to have the confidence to be in charge," said Anderson.
Parents also have to be consistent.
"When you're in Target and they're throwing a fit for something in the dollar spot, sure it would just be easier to say, OK, you can have that one dollar toy. But if you have four kids, that's four toys you have to buy," said Duke.
Anderson said parents can't give in even once.
"If you let something slide at one, or two, then it's going to compound and get worse. A lot of people want to start raising their child around nine or 10 years old. It's already established," said Anderson.
He added that not just one parent can remain consistent, both parents have to sing the same song.
"It's like two coaches, running the team. And if they're arguing all the time about the playbook and what they should do, the kids don't have any leadership," said Anderson.
While meltdowns are inevitable, Anderson said that if you know how to handle it once, you could prevent them from happening again.
Anderson wrote a book called "Care Enough To Discipline". You can find more information about the book here: http://careenoughtodiscipline.com.
WFMY News 2