The trend seems to be towards not hitting children as a punishment. No parent wants to be left without any effective child discipline tools. This article deals with age appropriate discipline methods that can work for you and your child.
Tailor your discipline efforts to your child
What works for your child, depends on both you and your child's relationship and personality. By gathering a set of discipline tools that you can pick from allows you to pick the most appropriate and effective method for each situation.
- Collect ideas
- Adapt them to your specific situation
- Try them out
Age appropriate discipline
Very young children will not understand or learn from time outs.
- Distract the child from their unwelcome behavior
- Redirect them to a more acceptable behavior
Trial and error will tell you what works and doesn't work. When traveling, going out to a public place or to a friends or relatives house, bring items to help distract and redirect unwelcome behavior.
Make sure your child is not hungry or tired as this can lead to your child getting frustrated more easily and showing bad behavior. Over-stimulation can also lead to excitable and unwanted behavior.
- Generally the rule is 1 minute for every year of age
- Explain to your child clearly why they are going into time out
- Keep it in terms they understand and keep it very brief
- Immediately put your kid in time out after the explanation so they clearly connect the two
- Pick a quiet spot for timeout
- Use a timer
There is a tendency to send your child to their room for their timeout. Think of it from your child's point of view. Here they have books, a computer, perhaps a TV, maybe a cell phone. Also a sensitive child may begin to associate the bedroom with punishment and you may have difficulty at bedtime. Picking a quiet spot with no distractions and where have a clear view of what's going on is ideal.
Your child may move out of timeout before their time is up especially when you first start using this technique. You should immediately go over and return your kid to the timeout spot and restart the timeout. If you are using a timer, reset the time and make it clear that they now have to wait until the time is completed.
You will probably find less resistance over time if you are consistent in enforcing this rule. Children will test you from time to time to see if the rules remain the same. It is critical for you to behave consistently for this to be an effective method of discipline.
Reward and punishment as effective child discipline
As children get older, time outs may not longer work. Removing privileges such as going out to play, removing cell phone or restricting TV or computer use are common practice. Incentives are more controversial. Some parents expect to be obeyed and not to have their child require "bribing" or "payment" to carry out the task.
Others set up an allowance and have a list of things to be done to earn that allowance. This allows the parent to restrict the allowance if the agreed upon task list is not completed or if there is misbehavior. Probably a balance of these two methods works best. Agreeing up front exactly which tasks must be completed before the allowance is paid will avoid later arguments. Putting it in writing is even more effective. Examples of such tasks would be things like cutting the grass, gathering up leaves, removing snow and washing the car.
Consider teaching your child to save by opening a custodial bank account and making an agreement with them on how much they will put into that account. You can also keep a set of tasks that should be accomplished without monetary reward. Make sure you don't take these for granted though and praise your child for their positive behavior.
Involving them in some kind of charity giving or charity work will teach your child to have a social conscience and be sensitive to others needs. A portion of their allowance could be donated to buy food, clothes or toys for other kids for example. This also reminds them that there are those who are worse off than they are and puts the heavy marketing and commercialism of our society in perspective.
You can of course use incentives other than money such as new toys, new clothes or a special trip or outing. You can be as creative as you want and customize these to your child's interests and personality.
Dealing with tantrums can be very difficult and embarrassing. How you deal with it is very important for future behavior.
- Do not try to reason with your child
- Remove them from the situation
- Make sure they do not have an audience
- Let the tantrum run its course
If the tantrum is allowed to run its course without positive or negative reinforcement, then it is less likely to happen again. In practise this means that you should not react strongly but simply remove the child to a quiet area. If you are at someone else's house, use of a bedroom or other room where no one is around.
If you are at the shops or other public places, look for a quiet area such as a family or wheelchair accessible bathroom or go to your car. Make sure they are safe if they have a tendency to hit things or bang their head. Let the tantrum burn out without reacting to it. This lack or reaction and audience will reduce the changes that it will happen again and reduce the intensity if it does.
Tantrums are more likely to happen when your child is least able to cope. Being tired or hungry often makes a tantrum more likely to happen.