The best way to discipline a child is a tough conundrum to provide a direct answer to. Some parents experience a lot of disagreements about how to reprimand their child. Thankfully, there are healthy discipline strategies which you can employ that can provide real results in teaching your child right from wrong. When you know how to discipline a child effectively, you will ensure that they understand what’s acceptable behaviour.
The following are ten best ways on how to discipline a child:
One of the best ways on how to discipline a child is to give them your undivided attention. The most effective child care tool for discipline a parent has is attention. Reinforcing good behaviours and discouraging others happens through small actions. Children want their parents’ attention and respect. By treating them fairly, you set a stage for equal treatment with all of the positives and negatives that come with that.
2. Setting limits
Rules on conduct and what’s expected from a child should be clear and consistent. Set limits children can follow and explain why those limits are what they are. The more you explain those rules in age-appropriate terms, the more likely they will understand where you’re coming from. Your perspective matters, as does theirs. If they have a problem with limits, hear them out. As stated though, you want to remain strict and consistent in forming the rules you expect them to adhere to.
Every behaviour has a consequence, positive or negative. Calmly yet firmly explain the consequences of what happens when they don’t behaviour. For example, if your child does not clean their bedroom, you will be taking their toys away for the rest of the day. Follow through immediately, if they don’t abide. Don’t give in by breaking your promise of the consequence. That said, you don’t want to take away anything the child truly needs, such as a meal. These necessities aren’t something to threaten them with.
4. Good behaviour
Catch your children being good from time to time and acknowledge it. Just like they need to know when they’ve done something bad, they should be rewarded with a comment when they’ve done something good. Praise success and tries. Be specific in your praise.
5. Ignoring bad behaviour
Wait, what did we just say! As long as a child isn’t doing something dangerous and is receiving attention for their good behaviours, you can ignore some of the bad behaviour as a strategy to stop it. It can teach children the natural consequences of their actions. For example, a child dropping cookies on the ground suddenly has no cookies. They don’t need you to point out the consequences – they’re right there for them to see. If a child throws and breaks a toy, they are not to receive a new one for the same reason. It won’t take long for the child to recognize consequences in response to action.
6. Showing rather than telling
Teaching children the difference between what is right and what is wrong starts with the parent. Demonstrating to them calm, reasonable actions and behaviours, and using appropriate communication strategies can be key to proactively keeping your child in line. What you would like to see in your child should be modelled in your behaviour. Consider pulling examples from your day-to-day to highlight to your child how to behave and conduct themselves.
7. Plan ahead
If you want to know how to discipline a child, you need to develop a plan in advance. Get ready if you’re embarking on a known situation where you suspect your child may have trouble behaving. Prepare your child for upcoming activities and calmly outline the expected behaviour.
Sometimes, bad behaviour in children can happen when they are bored or don’t know any better. If you suspect this is the case, you may want to find something else for your child to do. Redirecting bad behaviour is not every parent’s favourite approach as it can ignore the disciplining to some. That said, negative behaviour is not always from a child being purposefully difficult. At times, they just want attention or something to do.
When we discipline a child, we can get caught up in seeing things strictly from our perspective. Children may have a reason for their misbehaviour. Listen to them. If there’s a pattern of bad behaviour, find out why. Talk with your child, instead of jumping straight to the consequences. Children should have the opportunity to be heard and to explain themselves. You just may uncover an alternate issue that needs to be dealt with to resolve negative behaviour.
The time-honoured tradition of a time-out is still useful, to this day. When a specific rule is broken, give them a time-out. Alternatively, you can warn your child they will receive a time-out if they don’t change their behaviour. In their time-out, remind them what they did wrong and set the length of time you want them in their current position. Children 3 years or above, let them lead their own time-out. Say things like, “It’s time-out time. Come back when you’re in control of yourself.” This is a self-management strategy that will assist children in learning and practicing positive behaviour.