If you have to put your child in a situation that isn't appropriate for his age, then giving him instructions beforehand is much easier than trying to set the rules while you're already involved in that activity. You end up saying, "Shhh-you-need-to-be-quiet," or, "No, you can't have anything," way too much. Instead, you'll be giving a few reminders of the rules you've already gone over.
Explaining things to children in advance works really well, too, especially when you're in a hurry: "We're going to the store for just a few minutes. Don't ask for anything." It may take awhile for them to believe that you really mean what you said, so they may go ahead and ask for something. But, don't give in, and eventually they'll get the idea.
Such planning works only when you don't give in to whining and change your mind about the rules. If you set rules but don't stick by them, you're in serious trouble. Your kids will always push you, whine, and throw fits whenever you go back on your word. This is a parental behavior that also is known as not being consistent.
Excerpted from Parenting For Dummies, 2nd Edition®, published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. For more information on "Parenting For Dummies®", or other books, visit Dummies.com.