Discipline: general principles
It is important to remember not to reward your child or give positive reinforcement for a bad behavior. For example, if your child is having a temper tantrum, giving her a cookie to be quiet is rewarding your child for the bad behavior. In order to help decrease the chance of bad behavior, consider the following:
- Don't reinforce the behavior; simply ignore your child.
- The behavior may have to result in an unpleasant consequence, such as punishment.
Active punishment has two forms, including the following:
- denying your child privileges or desired activities, such as decreasing TV time or no dessert
- undesirable or uncomfortable activities can be required of your child, such as doing chores or having "time-out"
- The behavior can result in natural consequences. For example, if your child won't eat, she may go to bed hungry.
- It is generally accepted that spanking and other forms of physical punishment are not helpful. These types of discipline teach your child aggressive behaviors and poor conflict management.
Methods of discipline
Discipline methods often depend on the age of your child, and how much your child understands her behavior. The following are some suggestions for discipline techniques for each age group:
Infants and toddlers:
- Safety is the main concern.
- Infants will respond to a loud, firm voice saying "No."
- Provide a safe environment that decreases the chances of things being broken by your child.
- After saying "No," direct your child to an acceptable behavior, such as a toy.
- Do not reward bad behavior. Ignore temper tantrums, but confront other problems, such as biting or hitting.
- Praise and reward good behavior.
Preschoolers need clear and consistent rules.
- This age group needs time to prepare for the next activity. Give your child a warning before it's time to stop playing.
- Preschoolers need lots of explanation as to why things are being done.
- Use time-out for bad behavior.
- Use praise for good behavior.
- school-aged children:
School-aged children need the above rules and guidelines plus the following:
- Give your child chances to explain their side and opinions, and provide opportunities to express their feelings and concerns.
- Give your child choices.
- Give your child chances to help solve problems together regarding their behavior.
- This age group needs patient and understanding parents as they test all limits.
- Adolescents need to be told the long-term outcomes of bad behaviors.
- Adolescents need to be involved with limit-setting, based on their maturity.