11 Tips for Disciplining Children


How parents discipline their children has been a major topic of discussion in the news over the past month. Given a few high-profile cases of child abuse, more parents are having conversations and asking questions like, "What is the correct way to discipline a child? Is discipline even necessary? What about traditional methods that older parents used?" These are just a few of the many questions parents must ask themselves as they try to parent their children in the best way possible.

Regardless of the methods you may use to "discipline" or parent your child, we're here to offer you some helpful tips and philosophies that, if followed, will help you better connect with your child and improve their behavior -- and yours, as a parent.
It is no secret: parents get stressed, fatigued, and sometimes even upset. Often times this influences their interactions with a child and the methods they use to influence a situation. One method to always remember, especially when you're stressed or in the heat of the moment, is a method called H.A.LT. The video below offers an explanation:

Below are 11 tips for parents looking to help their children learn better behavior and how to self-regulate.

  1. Have high expectations for good behavior ― but make sure your expectations match your child's age. For example, it's unrealistic to expect a toddler not to touch things. Toddlers naturally explore and touch everything within reach. If your toddler ventures toward something off-limits, protect and redirect him, rather than scold or punish.
  2. For preschoolers, have clear rules and consistent routines, and be proactive by patiently showing kids how you want them to behave. Your everyday interactions ― from playtime to bedtime to mealtime ― are the perfect opportunities to show and tell your child how to behave in different situations. Model positive cooperative behaviors, and be clear and firm about what's OK and what’s not.
  3. Look behind the misbehavior. Misbehavior isn’t always intentional. Sometimes a preschooler is cranky because he’s hungry or sleepy. Or perhaps the spilled water was part of young child’s experiment with water. Looking at the misbehavior from your child’s perspective might impact how you react.
  4. Respond to your child's emotional needs with warmth and understanding. Give your preschooler opportunities to do things "all by himself," but offer help as needed. Use routines to help kids get into good habits like putting toys away, helping, sharing, saying sorry, cooperating when it's bath- or bedtime. Expecting and praising desired behaviors helps them become habits. And practicing these habits helps your child develop self-help, and social and cognitive skills.
  5. When it comes to responding to a young child's misbehavior, take firm but gentle action without too much talking or explaining. Making too much of your child's misbehavior, or reacting too emotionally, sometimes keeps it happening.
  6. Avoid asking questions, ('why would you do that!?') and avoid harsh words that disparage or shame your child ('you are so selfish'). Stay focused on the specific misbehavior you want to correct. Simply stop your child, and calmly (but firmly) say what's not allowed. Then say what will happen next (‘say you're '). When your child does that, offer brief praise. Most times a longer punishment is unnecessary. It can be more helpful to encourage your child toward a positive way to behave.
  7. Manage your own emotions. It's natural for parents to feel frustrated or angry when children misbehave. Be aware of your emotions, but be in control of how you express them. Remain calm and clear when responding to your child. Avoid yelling and preaching. Teach kids to manage their own emotional meltdowns by setting a good example.
  8. When it comes to discipline, parents should be warm and fair...but firm and clear. Don't use threats, physical punishment, or consequences that are too harsh or out of scale with the misbehavior. Have reasonable consequences for misbehavior, and carry them out calmly.
  9. Use approaches that help your child learn to problem-solve and to manage difficult emotions. Help kids learn to cooperate with your requests by giving specific instructions (nicely), and breaking down tasks into small parts. Teach cool-downs to help kids regroup. Ignore your child's protests whenever you can. Stay calmly focused on what you expect. Praise your child for self-reliant cooperative behaviors. Teach your child to know and name emotions and to tell you how he feels and why.
  10. Reach out for help and support. Your support network may include family members or friends. But other resources include your child's doctor, nurse, teacher, or a child therapist. Take a parenting class. Read. Talk to other parents who are successful at raising children without having to use physical force.
  11. Above all, be patient. Being a parent is a difficult job. But raising a happy child who is socially and emotionally equipped to be successful in life is probably the most important (and rewarding) job a parent can have.

(source: KidsHealth)