Discipline Techniques That Work

For many new parents, teaching a young child good behavior feels like it should be easy and intuitive when, in reality, it can be challenging. When put to the test, it’s not quite as easy as you might think to dole out effective discipline— especially when dealing with a strong-willed child.

As young children develop independence and learn more and more about themselves in relation to others and their environment, they can easily grow frustrated because they don’t always know how to communicate their feelings or how to think and act rationally.

As a parent, it’s crucial to recognize these limitations and also set up rules to protect your child—and people they encounter. It’s important to ensure a child is not engaging in aggressive, inappropriate or dangerous behavior. These rules—including a parent’s or caregiver’s follow-up actions—allow your child to learn and develop a better understanding of what is (as well as what is not) appropriate behavior.

Here are a few key ways to correct negative behaviors and to help get your child on the right path for the future:

Use positive reinforcement. Whenever possible, look to deliver specific and positive praise when a child engages in good behavior or if you catch them in an act of kindness. Always focus on the positive things they are doing, so that they are more apt to recreate those behaviors.

Be simple and direct. Though this seems like a no-brainer, focus your child using constructive feedback versus what not to do or where they went wrong. Give reasons and explanations for rules, as best as you can for their age group.  For example, demonstrate the correct motions and tell your young child, “We’re gentle when we pet the cat like this,” versus “Don’t pull Fluffy’s tail!”

Don’t use the age-old concept of “Time Out”. Kiddie Academy classrooms have cozy nooks where children are encouraged to have alone time, when they may feel out of control. In lieu of punishment, sending a child to a “feel-good” area removes the child from a situation that’s causing them distress, provides much-needed comfort and allows for the problem-solving process to start on its own.

Use “No” sparingly. When a word is repeated over and over, it begins to lose meaning. There are better ways to discipline your child than saying “no.” Think about replaying the message in a different way to increase the chances of the child taking note. For example, rather than shouting “No, stop that!” when your toddler is flinging food at dinnertime, it’s more productive to use encouraging words that prompt better behavior, such as, “Food is for eating. What are we supposed to do when we’re sitting at the dinner table?”

The above methods help create teachable moments by providing opportunities for development, while making sure the child feels safe and cared for. It is important to mirror these discipline techniques at home, and communicate often with your child care providers so that you’re always on the same page. After all, we are all working toward the same goal of raising a positive, confident child!

Thank you for reading along, as we work together in raising the next generation of amazing kids!

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