How to Get Little Brats to Behave

I (Jay) often do Skype-ins with high school and college classes, and every class manages to come up with a question I haven't heard before. Here's one from a student named Ashley, who works as an assistant teacher at a daycare center:

Although I work with adorable kids (ages 4-7), some of them are awfully behaved and never listen! I know you are probably thinking that I am just not strict enough with them, but I am at least as strict as the other teachers. How could I approach the situation differently?

Dear Ashley,

I doubt that your problem has to do with how strict you are. Kids are like dogs—they can smell your fear. Toddlers are remarkably good at sensing a lack of confidence in an authority figure, and they’re genetically programmed to test the weakest spot in every boundary.

So the brattier a kid gets, the better your posture should get, and the more confident your expression. Smile while shaking your head. Say things like, “Nope, that’s not working. Sorry, little dude, but rules are rules.” Watch cop videos of arrests (the ones that work out well, I mean). You’ll notice that the best cops don’t make anything personal. They’re calm but authoritative—“We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way.”

And toddlers really aren’t that different from drunks with misdemeanors.