The subject of discipline is one that can immediately stir a vibrant discussion amongst parents of this generation. Many of us were raised with some form of corporal punishment, and some parents are still strong advocates of this style of discipline. But whether or not you might be in favor of an occasional spanking, the truth of the matter is that it can be very effective as a parent to be as creative as possible when disciplining your child. All children are different and respond differently, so being aware of individuality in children can make discipline more effective. Don’t be afraid to try a new tactic in your pursuit of a well-behaved child; just remember that most importantly, the aim of discipline is not to hurt (whether physically or emotionally) but to improve the behavior of the child.
Consider the situation
“Time outs” are an oft-used method of redirecting the behavior of children, and can be very effective when used properly. Calmly remove the child from the situation in question, and have him sit in a designated area to “cool-off,” which really gives both parent and child an opportunity for a deep breath before explaining to the child why his behavior was not acceptable. There are times, however, when this method loses effectiveness. For instance, if the child is refusing to get into bed, giving him a time-out really allows him to further delay bedtime. As parents, we should be constantly paying attention to whether the disciplinary action we are taking is serving its purpose. This situation might be a good time to use an alternative, such as taking away a favorite toy or movie for a set period of time.
Think about the ‘why’
Are there certain times of day when your child is especially prone to unacceptable behavior? Certain situations? Consider what factors might be encouraging him to act out. One reason could be boredom, as toddlers have seemingly unending energy. Be sure to let him run around, play, get creative, explore. Children need activity, not just television and video games. Try to get your child outside when possible, or go to the library or an indoor playground if rain or snow prohibits outside play. You don’t need to spend money, just try to be creative. Also be aware of hunger and sleep levels when behavior turns bad. If it is naptime or dinner time, be sensitive to the fact that your child might just have issues that need to be addressed in order to improve behavior.
Focus on the good moments too
Sometimes, especially with toddlers, we as parents tend to feel like much of the day is spent on trying to correct bad behavior. It is important, however, to put as much or more emphasis on good behavior. Children of this age find much satisfaction in pleasing their parents (even if it doesn’t always seem that way!) and pointing out their good behavior can be very encouraging to their egos. For example, when your sharing-impaired child suddenly decides to give a favorite toy to her sibling, make a big deal out of her kindness. Give her a big hug and tell her how proud you are of her. You might be surprised at the impact this can have.
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