Many a time, it can become very tedious to handle children and discipline them. They may not always be in a mood to listen. It is natural for them to throw tantrums, make a mess, and create chaos, and this is the most testing time for any parent. It is not always right to scold your children for anything and everything. Situations need to be handled calmly and with thought. Children should learn the importance of discipline early on in their lives. Here are some ways to discipline your children without losing your mind.
1. Set boundaries early
The toddler years are a very good time to start introducing some boundaries and discipline because that’s a time when young children are really experimenting with different behaviours. But be aware that your toddlers’ brains are still very young and they may not understand the connection between behaviour and consequences.
2. Establish your family rules and stick to them
It’s important for families to introduce their own rules about what’s okay and what’s not okay, where the limits are and what you as parents expect from your children in terms of behaviour. A mantra that can be helpful is being ‘firm but fair’.
3. Explain the negative consequences
It’s important for children to see that if they do something that crosses the line, there will be consequences for it. Time Out is a goodie to use or you might reduce screen time or something like that.
4. But don’t forget positive reinforcement
The other important thing is to use positive behaviours and for that to be part of raising a family, too. Praise children when you see them behave really well when they speak in a lovely way to their little sister or little brother when they do something kind for someone in the family.
5. Explain how bad behaviour makes you feel
Children take their cues from parents so modelling the sort of behaviour where you don’t yell is really powerful. Share with your child how it makes you feel (when they yell at you, for example.) You can tell them ‘That hurts my feelings,’ and ‘I feel sad when you do that.’ Even for a young child, say four years of age, that is something they do understand.
6. Limit your Time Outs
Set times according to something kids can understand, depending on their age. Say ‘Go into your room until dinner time’ or ‘Stay in your room until Mum or Dad gets home’ so they understand when the punishment is going to finish.
7. Don’t use an angry voice
It can scare children. Getting angry doesn’t always produce the outcome you’re looking for. It’s not that different to when a little baby might be pulling your hair or pulling your earring or something like that. A simple no, repeated if needs are, even a young baby comprehends that and can take it in.
8. Don’t smack them
Smacking isn’t good for children and it doesn’t teach them how to behave or how to control their behaviour. It also sends a message that smacking is okay, which it isn’t. Smacking might injure a child and it may even contribute to longer term harm.
9. Learn the motive for misbehaving
It’s important to try and understand what’s behind that sort of behaviour. Ask ‘What are your feelings at the moment? Why are you upset?’ and try to unpack what’s going on. Children take their cues from others around them. They misbehave for lots of different reasons, including their temperament, having trouble adjusting to changes or simply because they’re overtired or frustrated.