We've all been subjected to the screaming child in the aisle of the supermarket or the entitled teen in Target. It's never a pleasant situation, but often we don't realize how unnecessary the bad behavior really is. Children act out by and large (unless they have some sort of disorder) because we let them act out. Strict discipline is a hard route to take in this day and age but, nonetheless, can be a life saver and can teach your children valuable lessons they'll need in the future.

If your child is a public tantrum thrower, or an incorrigible slob in your own house, consider these tips to help you lead a more drama-free existence.

1. No Empty Threats

Don't threaten to throw away toys if they don't pick them up off the floor. Don't threaten to leave the cart right where it is and go home without getting something for dinner. All it takes is mom to actually follow through on a threat once for it to hit home that mom means business. I still remember 35 years later the day my mom left the cart in the aisle and we ate crackers and milk for dinner. My daughter lost a few Zhu Zhu Pets to the thrift store bin. Follow through on the threat just once and then the threat finally works for you.

2. Have Set Bedtimes

Today's parents are letting elementary school students go to bed at 11 p.m. and then wondering why they are in a bad mood, ill-prepared for school, and ornery the next day. An elementary school student, especially K-3, should be going to bed by 8 p.m. Children need more sleep than adults. Make sure they get it. Also, do yourself and everyone else a favor and DO NOT take a cranky child out in public. Your errand will take three times as long and will make you cranky at the end. Nothing is so important that it has to be done right then.

3. Limit TV and Video Games

Establish a set time frame for games โ€” after chores, homework, and spotless house. Successful families often set limits of Friday and Saturday nights only. Have a snarky middle schooler who loves Nickelodeon cartoons or Disney-fueled superfluous hormone drama? You may be feeding the frenzy by letting your kids watch too much vacuous TV. Today's typical kid-oriented sitcom features kids that are portrayed to know more than their parents and to disrespect them. Is it any wonder this is such a widespread problem?

4. Cultivate Family Space and Family Time

Look at how your house is set up. Are you all sharing space or just existing under the same roof? Create a room (we chose our living room) that is a comfy place to hang out but doesn't feature a TV or other technology. Collect cell phones in a bowl just like you would change and keys. Read books together and talk about them. Encourage them to ask questions about the world. Consider kids sharing a bedroom so you can free up a room for family space. Don't be afraid of kids sharing space, either. Kids appreciate it when you take the time to discuss issues with them and not at them.

5. Cultivate Empathy

It is a sad state of affairs that colleges now have to offer classes in 'empathy' because it wasn't learned K-12 or worse โ€” at home. Reverse this cultural trend! Look for ways to serve your community as a family. Make sure they know that empathy makes for a compassionate society regardless of religious background, etc.

My kids participate in UNICEF donation collection, food bank collections, and more. Watch documentaries that depict real poverty. Let them know how incredibly lucky they are to have been born to you in America. And that it just is what it is โ€” luck. We watched the film Baraka together and we had endless conversations about the world and poverty.

6. Consequences for Bad Manners

"Please," "Thank you," and "May I?" still hold a good deal of clout in our society. Nothing turns an elder off to your child quicker than the suspicion that you are raising a brat without manners. If the seniors in your community and your family are talking about what a horrible job you are doing, rest assured. Just say 'no' if your kids' requests are not accompanied by these words, and they'll get things soon enough.

7. Level With Your Kids About Bad Behavior

If, as a family, you witness bad behavior of other children, talk about it. Let them know what other people are thinking and not saying about little Oliver next door who runs wild. Let them know that the reason Chloe picks on other kids is because of her home life. Ask them if they'd like people to think of them the way they think of Chloe and Oliver. We are often afraid to let children feel ashamed of their behavior. Don't be afraid to let them think about their inappropriateness for awhile.

8. Appropriate Dress

Don't dress your daughter like a prostitute. Just because stores are selling inappropriate clothing for kids doesn't mean you have to purchase it. Start a decency trend at your child's school. We are a shallow society. We will judge by appearance even while claiming that we are all free to do whatever we want. Don't let your children show up for school wearing their pajamas unless its pajama day.

Ever wonder why India, China, and Brazil's students are leagues ahead of ours in math and science? Could it be that they take school seriously? Letting kids wear pajama bottoms to school sets a dangerous tone of slack. Don't buy the comfort argument your older kids will throw at you. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they'll fall asleep in class, the more likely they'll appear disrespectful to their teachers.

9. Limit Choices

If you ask a kid what they want to eat or what they want to do, you've set yourself up for failure. Instead of open-ended choices, give specific ones. Do you want to have carrots or spinach in your lunch? Do you want to the museum or the park? Do you want to try this new thing or that new thing? Remember, you are the adult. Children will pick what they are familiar with over the unknown. Expose them to the unknown.

10. Model Good Behavior

If your kids see you as an empathetic, family-oriented, respectful, well-mannered person who doesn't get sucked into the TV at night, odds are they'll take you much more seriously. Prioritize your life so that they see you go to bed on time. Don't harp on them for their poor choice in friend cultivation if you've got an abusive boyfriend in the house. Demonstrate strength and fortitude by getting rid of the negative in your life. Most importantly, be your child's parent, not his or her friend.

Does it take some forethought and time to cultivate good behavior? Yes. But it's absolutely amazing how easy it is once a pattern has been established. Good kids are not made overnight. But they are possible, and possible for you in this new year.