Preschoolers between the ages of three to five are at a very interesting phase of life. This is when most parents practise disciplining and this article will teach you how to discipline your child.
They are curious and excited to explore the world around them. They are also pushing boundaries to learn what is acceptable and what isn’t.
While they are aware that there are rules to follow, they may not abide by rules or listen to instructions all the time.
They might not understand why you have to say no sometimes and will throw a tantrum when things don’t go their way. This is where discipline comes in.
Discipline is about teaching your child how to obey a set of rules. It’s also about learning boundaries.
The goal of disciplining your child is to make sure that they can express good behaviour at all times — at home and in public.
You want to teach your child to learn right from wrong so they can always be at their best behaviour. Through discipline, they also learn how to manage and express their feelings.
As parents, you can try different strategies and methods to find out what best works for your child. Always remember to use a positive approach.
Let’s look at some ways to on child discipline methods.
(1) Parents should lead by example
The best way to discipline your child who won’t listen is to lead by example. Your child learns by imitating the people around them, especially their parents.
They spend most of their time with you.
For example, if you want your child to speak with manners, you have to do the same.
Consistently using words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will build the definitions of how your child understands manners.
Too often parents scold their child for behaving badly but they have yet to realise that children are not fully aware of their actions.
- If you want your child to eat at the dining table instead of in front of the television, then you and your spouse will have to do the same thing.
- If you reckon they need to listen to instructions, hear their qualms and reason why or why not it can be done.
By modelling behaviour for them to follow, it naturally teaches them boundaries.
2. Actively listen to and guide them
One of the toughest things about parenting is saying no, especially when your child is at a tender age.
As parents, you want them to have everything they want. You hate seeing them cry.
However, by saying no, you are teaching them to not give in to temptations.
As a child, they lack the ability to reason and would fault you for their unhappiness.
This can be solved through active listening. It signals to them they are being heard and that they matter.
For example, if they want ice cream before dinner and you have to say no, then say no. They’d probably start begging and pleading, but you have to stay firm.
Ask them what they want and why they want it. During that, it is important to show that you listen to them by:
- Nodding your head while they cry
- Saying okay while providing eye contact
- Telling them you understand
Oftentimes, as parents, the temptations to command obedience to rules, is the logical step. However, a little patience and consistency go a long way.
(3) Don’t give in to tantrums
When you say no to your child or don’t give them something they want, they are likely to throw a tantrum. They might start yelling or crying.
You must not give in to this. If you do, then you are teaching them that they will get your attention by throwing a tantrum. Do not yell at them either. Remain calm and patient.
Once they are done crying, then you can console them. Explain why you made that decision and why it was important that you said no.
For example, “No we can’t go out today even though I promised you because it’s raining. Let’s do it another time.”
Again, active listening could be used here as well.
(4) Reward good behaviour
Another effective way to encourage good behaviour is to reward it when you see it.
When you spot your child sharing their toys or putting back their toys where they belong, acknowledge the behaviour and reward them. Tell them they did a good job and reward them by giving extra playtime.
(5) Be consistent with your actions
Be consistent with your actions and instructions so that your child can pick up a pattern.
For example, if they are not allowed to go out to play at night, then there should be no exceptions.
If they have to go to bed at 9 p.m. every night, then make sure they go to bed at the same time every night. Do not give in to extra playtime or television time as this will make them think that they don’t have to follow the rules that you have set.
(6) Communicate with your child
Your child needs to understand why there are rules in place. Otherwise, they won’t understand why they have to behave or speak in a certain manner.
Explain to them that the rules are there to keep them safe. It’s not to punish them or make their lives difficult. Make them aware that adults also have rules to follow.
When they understand where you’re coming from, they are more likely to listen. If they don’t, then they would think that their mom and dad are simply depriving them of what they want.
Consistent communication will help your child become a better listener and a better person.
(7) Forbid spanking and other forms of physical discipline
Some parents still resort to spanking or raising their voice whenever their children misbehave. Neither one of these teaches a child what they did wrong and why they should not have behaved the way that they did.
Spanking, for example, instils fear and solves little to nothing at all. As a matter of fact, research has shown that spanking will only increase aggression in a child.
For example, if your child has hit another child, take them aside and find out what made them do that action. Explain why that is wrong and give your child alternatives that they can use the next time they are in a similar situation.
You can say, “Because you did this and it is wrong, tonight you will go to bed early. Can we make sure this does not happen again?”
Tell your child to come to you or go to a teacher the next time they face a problem that they can’t solve.
Now, let’s address the next big question: What if my spouse and I discipline differently?
Most parents have encountered this situation at one time or another. One parent insists on disciplining their child in this way, while the other parent disagrees and thinks that it should be done in another way.
So, what do you do?
First of all, this is a completely normal situation in the world of parenting.
What’s important is that you agree on the goal, which is to raise a child that is well-behaved and well-mannered.
Here are some steps you can take:
(1) Do some research and discuss with each other
Both you and your spouse can read up or watch videos on what are some of the best ways to discipline your child. Weigh the pros and cons of each method and come to an agreement.
(2) Parents should always back each other up
If you’re talking with your child and spouse comes in and says, “Leave the child alone”, it could crumble your efforts to discipline your child.
In any situation, whenever one parent is having a moment with the child, the other parent should not intervene,unless things are getting dangerous of course.
Always back each other up and never argue in front of your child.
(3) Refer to other parents for advice
You might think that your child is not ready for a sleepover at a friend’s place, but your spouse disagrees.
If both of you fail to reach an agreement, seeking second opinions from other parents would give further clarity and readjust perspectives as to what is best for a child.
They might also be able to share some rules that they have set in place to make sure that an activity such as sleepover goes well and no one misbehaves.
Parents need to understand that preschoolers are at the age where they are still learning about patterns and behaviours,and that they learn best from imitating.
Make sure that you and your family members be the role models for the behaviour that you expect to see in your child. Be patient, be consistent and be supportive.