Discipline is a touchy subject. Every family has their own methods. One thing we all have in common? Our kids act up. Let’s face it, there comes a time when your child will misbehave at home, or worse, when you’re out in public at the mall, park or when visiting friends and family. Sometimes your initial instinct is to yell, “Stop!” (or heaven forbid, spank your child). Because research shows that yelling and spanking can have short-term and long-term negative effects on kids, it’s important for you to come up with alternative ways to discipline your children.
Pick Your Battles
Pick your battles. Children are naturally curious and will sometimes say or do things that are seemingly inappropriate. Assess the situation to determine whether a simple talk with your child will improve his behavior, or whether another disciplinary action is necessary.
Consider your child’s age. Certain discipline methods work best with younger children, rather than older children. Use distraction or removal to discipline children 15 months and younger. Discipline children 3 and younger by ignoring them, especially if they are whining or acting inappropriately to get your attention.
Be an Example
Show your child the behavior you’d like her to exhibit. The website Parents says that children respond well to this technique, because it gives them an example of what to do, instead of what not to do. Children see this approach as more positive than being told what not to do.
Make a timeout rule and set up a timeout area in your home. When your child misbehaves, make him stop what he’s doing and then direct him to a chair, pillow or space on the floor specifically reserved for timeouts. Timeouts should last one minute per year old. Dr. Bill Sears, a pediatrician and child care author, says that timeouts can be used anywhere by simply finding an unrewarding spot away from distractions.
Express your disapproval when your child misbehaves. Explain to your child the behavior you expect from her and how it makes you feel when she misbehaves. Family Education, a parenting website, suggests that expressing disapproval once is one of the most effective ways to change a child’s behavior.
Stick to the Rules
Stick to the rules you set for your child. Once you announce your expectations, reinforce the behaviors you want to see.
Remember to recognize and reward your child when he behaves well. Express your approval with words, but also offer your child a special reward such as his favorite treat, or better, a big hug to show how proud you are.