Disciplining your child at the right time is an important part of being a parent. You need to teach your child what is right and what is wrong to help her grow into the best person that she can be. There are times, however, when it’s difficult to determine whether you need to punish her or let a particular action slide. Determine where to draw the line before you have to.
It’s important that your discipline techniques are appropriate for the age of your child. With very young children–those under 2–you need to be proactive about removing temptations that could cause bad behavior. These children don’t yet know what’s wrong and what’s not. As children grow older, though, they learn the difference between right and wrong and will start to break the rules actively to see how much they can get away with. It’s then that you need to take a step toward disciplining bad behavior.
The first time that your child does something wrong–painting the carpet, putting toys in the toilet or emptying a box of cookies on the floor, for example–it’s OK to give him a free pass. It’s possible that he didn’t know that it was wrong. However, you do have to tell him that you didn’t want him to do that, and let him know what the consequence will be if he does it again. The second time, you can give him a punishment.
Rules and Consequences
It’s important to set rules as a family to help guide your child toward correct behavior. Consequences help her to make the right choices, since she doesn’t want to be punished. The consequences should fit the rule that was broken. For example, if she doesn’t eat all her vegetables, she cannot have a cookie for dessert. Whenever your child breaks one of the household rules, you need to give her the punishment.
Part of the idea of positive discipline is to reward your child when she does good. To do this, catch her following the rules without being asked and comment on what a good job she’s doing. If she cleaned up her room without prompting, for example, you could allow her to stay up a bit later than usual for an extra bedtime story. Hopefully, you’ll be able to reward her more often than you punish her.
The key to disciplining your child is to be consistent. You shouldn’t have a certain set of rules that he must follow at home, only to abandon them once he goes to grandma’s house. If you only punish him sometimes, he’s more likely to break rules just to see whether he can. Instead, consistently offer the same rewards and punishments for good and bad behavior.
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