Parents play a key role in making sure that a child knows the distinction between a behavior that is acceptable, and one that is not. Parents are pretty much aware that there is no perfect discipline strategy that can work for all children. What works for one child may not be effective for another. In order for your discipline strategy to be effective, it may be good to consider your child’s developmental stage.
In disciplining children, parents should not only aim at showing a child appropriate behavior, but it should also promote a sense of responsibility and a healthy self-esteem. Here are a few basic discipline techniques that may be applicable to preschool-aged children. You may apply these in combination with any strategy that may work best for your child:
1. Do not give attention to any annoying behavior that your child shows. Children at this age crave attention, and if you give attention to bad habits like whining and tantrums, it may only encourage your child to keep on doing these habits. Ignore inappropriate behavior, but never fail to ignore any behavior that may put your child in danger.
2. Set-up logical consequences that are closely related to the improper acts that your child did. Preschoolers can already understand the link between actions and consequences. Make sure that your child clearly understands the rules set at home, so that he will know why he is being punished for a particular deed.
If your child scribbles on the wall with crayons, you may warn your child initially. If your child does it again, have your child clean it up or you can keep the crayons for a short time. In employing this strategy, consider your child’s limitations. If your child is still not developmentally capable of cleaning the entire mess, you can assist your child but he also has to do his part in accomplishing the task.
3. Try redirecting your child’s behavior. During instances when your child starts to misbehave, try to have him focus his attention to something else. If he is starting a fight with a playmate regarding a specific toy, try to offer other toys that he may also find interesting.
4. Utilize time-outs appropriately. Time-outs can be quite effective for children three years old and older. Choose a safe spot in your home for time-outs, and make sure that the area does not have any distractions like toys or the television. Many experts suggest that the duration of the time-out should depend on the child’s age. A full minute is equivalent to one year of a child’s age. Thus, a three-year old child is expected to have a three minute time-out.
Keep in mind that the primary goal of a time-out is to separate a child from the activity, or the people associated with the misbehavior. After the time-out, you can then encourage your child to engage in a positive activity.
5. Do not fail to praise your child for showing positive behavior and doing good deeds. Remember, discipline is not just about giving punishments, but it should also be about acknowledging good behavior. If you witness your child share a toy with a playmate, be specific in acknowledging the good behavior. Utilizing praise as a strategy is usually more effective than punishing a child for misbehaving.
6. Set the right example. Modeling the right behavior is not as easy as what many people may think. There are times when parents can send conflicting messages to the kids, by not doing the things that they preach. Children can easily pick up the behavior of their parents, and it is important you try to show them proper behavior.
7. Reward positive behavior. After you have established rules at home, you may also come up with a reward system, so that your child will be encouraged to obey. These rewards should not be something material, but rather it should be more on having extra privileges that your child enjoys. If your child behaved properly at a play group, you may reward your child by allowing more TV time during the day.
Parents will always have varied strategies in trying to instill discipline in children. As parents, we are also not perfect and at times we can also make mistakes. Learn as you go along. With nothing but the best intentions for your child, surely you will eventually develop a strategy that can work best.