|When your Baby is:||Try These Techniques:|
|6-8 years||Timeouts and consequences are also effective discipline strategies with this age group.|
Again, consistency is crucial, as is following through. Make good on any promises of discipline or else you will risk undermining your authority. Kids have to believe that you mean what you say. This is not to say you can’t give second chances or allow your child a certain margin of error, but for the most part, you should follow through with what you say.
Be careful not to make unrealistic threats of punishment (“Slam that door and you’ll never watch TV again!”) in anger, since not following through could weaken all your threats. If you threaten to turn the car around and go home if the squabbling in the backseat doesn’t stop, make sure you do exactly that. The lost day at the beach is much less valuable than the credibility you’ll gain with your kids.
Huge punishments may take away your power as a parent. If you ground your son or daughter for a month, your child may not feel motivated to change his or her behavior because everything has already been taken away.
|9-12 years||Kids in this age group – just as with all ages – can be disciplined with natural consequences.|
As they mature and request more independence and responsibility, teaching them to deal with the consequences of their behavior is an effective and appropriate method of discipline.
For example, if your fifth grader has not done his or her homework before bedtime, should you make him or her stay up or help him finish? Probably not, since you’ll be missing an opportunity to teach your child something about life. If he or she doesn’t do homework earlier, your child will go to school without it the next day and suffer the resulting bad grade.
It’s natural for you to want to rescue your child from any mistakes, but in the long run you’ll be doing your child more of a favor if you let him or her fail sometimes. Your child will see what behaving improperly can mean, and will probably not make those mistakes again.
However, if your child does not seem to be learning from natural consequences, you should set up your own consequences to help him modify his behavior more effectively.
|How can I discipline my children:||To Teach:|
|Learning self-discipline||Learning self-discipline and respect for others is an absolutely vital part of growing up. Children need adults to be firm, clear and calm with them so they learn right from wrong and how to get on with others.|
It’s important to set an example to your child. If she sees you shouting, losing control or lashing out she’s more likely to do the same. Children learn by copying adults.
|Communication||Communication is a huge part of good discipline. Right from the start it’s important to talk with your child and to listen to her, too. Make sure she understands what sort of behavior you want from her and praise her whenever she does something well.|
Children often find it hard to explain their feelings and may behave badly because they are upset or angry. If something goes wrong, encourage your child to talk about how it felt (‘you must have felt cross when Sam pushed in’) and help her to deal with those feelings so she can handle the situation better next’ time.
|Attention-seeking and positive discipline||Attention-seeking is often a cause of bad behavior. Children, especially when they are young, will do almost anything to get your attention and it can be maddening.|
Positive discipline can work at home as well as at school. When it’s safe to do so, ignore tantrums, whining and other attention-seeking behavior. Instead, encourage and reward good behavior with lots of attention.
Do be specific when you praise your child, too: describe what she did so she knows exactly what was so good. ‘You’re a good girl for helping your brother off with his coat without being asked’ is clearer than ‘Good girl for being so helpful’.
|Sticker charts||You may find it helpful to try other positive discipline techniques, too. Using a sticker chart and be effective.|
Make a chart which divides each day into manageable chunks. Award a sticker for each part of the day when your child behaves well. Give lots of praise and encourage her to keep going, especially if bad behavior starts to appear.
A full day needs to be celebrated with lots of praise. A set number of stickers can lead to a small reward, such as a favorite film or a trip. The set number might range from two days to a week, depending on your child’s needs. Make sure she is absolutely clear about the timescale. If rewards seem too far away the whole thing can feel impossible, but too many rewards can devalue the idea.
|Sanctions or punishments||If you do need to use sanctions, they don’t need to be severe. They just need to be explained in advance and to be consistent. So, if your child keeps doing something, tell her what she’s doing wrong and explain what will happen if she carries on.|
If she does carry on, make sure you follow through with exactly what you said you’d do, calmly explaining as you go why you’re doing it. Do stay as calm and quiet as possible.
‘Time out’ can work well at home as well as at school, and can give you some space to calm down too. Tell your child to sit on the stairs or in a room for a short, set period of time. The room should be boring (no TV!) but safe. Carry her there if you need to and start timing. If she moves, simply put her back, explaining what you’re doing, and start timing again.
At the end of the time, give her a cuddle and let her go back to what she was doing.
If you need to, reinforce in a positive way what you expect her to do. At this point, though, the punishment is over: don’t start telling her off now. If she begins to behave badly again, just repeat the whole process. She should get the message pretty quickly.
|Distraction||Distracting your child if she begins to get tired or naughty can also work well, If children are starting to fight or misbehave, suggest another activity, such as a game, a toy, an activity or a change of scene. This can help to diffuse a scene before it gets going.|
|Shouting||Do try to avoid shouting and laying down the law. Too many rules can make a child feel confused or even defiant. A few clear, simple ones are much easier to stick to. Shouting may frighten a child into good behavior at first, but it won’t help her to understand what she did wrong. It will also create drama. This may well encourage her to shout back or to shout at others to get her own way.|
Lastly, do try to keep your sense of humor! Laughter can often diffuse a situation before it gets serious. It’s also important to make time for yourself, too, so you can keep a sense of perspective. Bringing up children is stressful and you deserve a break from time to time!