Smart Ways to Discipline Your Child at Every Age
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Teaching discipline is like teaching a child to walk. It takes patience, practice, and lots of repetition.

You may not relish the role of being the enforcer of your child, but your child will benefit from consistent, age-appropriate disciplinary tactics. Discipline is a very important part of raising healthy children. In fact, disciplining children and using discipline strategies are always positive.

If you fail to properly discipline your child, it may lead to the problem getting worse. The frustration that results can cause the problem to get worse later.

Continue reading for our tips on age-appropriate ways to discipline children.

1-year-old

If your 1-year-old is acting up, try distraction. For example, if he’s throwing a fit because he wants a toy that’s out of reach, give him a different toy to play with. If he’s throwing a fit because he doesn’t want to go to bed, try reading him a story or singing him a song.

If your 1-year-old is not responding to distraction, you may need to try a different discipline strategy.

In general, if you’re not sure which strategy to use, ask your pediatrician for advice.

2-year-old

If you notice that your 2-year-old is acting up, try to agree with him. As an example, if he is throwing a fit because he doesn’t want to go to bed, then explain that he needs to sleep so that he can be happy and healthy. Even if he throws a fit because he doesn’t want to eat his veggies, try telling him that they’re good for him.

You should not punish or isolate a 2-year-old with a time-out, but you can temporarily remove them from a situation to help them calm down. Place them in a different place and then divert their attention from the issue. We must minimize the power struggles.

3-year-old

Your 3-year-old is starting to develop skills that will help them become more independent. They are learning how to dress, feed themselves, and use the bathroom on their own. These life skills take time and practice to master, but your 3-year-old is up for the challenge.

While it is exciting to see your child grow and become more independent, it can also be frustrating. Sometimes they will forget how to do something they have done before or they will struggle with tasks that are new to them. This is all part of the learning process.

As your child becomes more independent, it is important to be there to support them. Offer encouragement and praise when they accomplish a task. Help them troubleshoot when they run into difficulty. And most importantly, let them know that you are always available to help when they need it.

If your 3-year-old is acting up, try setting some limits for him. So if he is throwing a fit because he does not want to go to bed, tell him that he can stay up until a certain amount of time. If he is throwing a fit because he does not want to eat his vegetables, tell him that he must eat those vegetables.

Discipline strategy is not one size fits all. So find what works best for your 3-year-old and stick with it. Toddler discipline is all about consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement.

Smart Ways to Discipline Your Child at Every Age
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4-year-old

In case your 4-year-old is acting up, try to come up with some logical consequences for his behavior. So, if you think that he is throwing a fit because he does not want to go to bed, tell him that if he does not go to bed on time, he can’t watch TV the next day. If he is throwing a fit because he doesn’t want to eat his vegetables, tell him that if he does not eat his vegetables, he won’t get dessert.

Your preschooler’s social skills are developing quickly, and they are struggling to keep their needs and the needs of others in balance. Take care of the problem early so that it does not happen that you will become frustrated.

Effective discipline for a preschooler with poor social skills includes teaching the child how to identify and express their feelings, setting limits on their behavior, and teaching them social skills.

It is important to remember that each child develops at their own pace, and some preschoolers may not have mastered social skills yet. If your child is having difficulty with social skills, be patient and work with them to help them improve.

5-year-old

When it comes to behavior, you may see some regression, and the occasional meltdowns are normal. It’s important to remember that your child is very young and still learning.

It is frustrating for parents when they see their children behaving like babies. But if you recognize the feelings of your child and support them, the child will grow emotionally and become able to cope with tough situations, she said.

If your 5-year-old is acting out, you can use positive reinforcement. If they’re throwing a fit because they don’t want to go to bed, tell them that if they go to bed on time, they will get a special treat.

You can also choose which vegetables they would like to eat. If they throw a fit because they don’t want to eat his vegetables, tell him that he can decide which vegetables he wants to eat for dinner.

They’ll feel understood and less fearful of telling the truth in the future. When 5-year-olds grasp concrete consequences, they are challenged to act as they develop their sense of conscience.

6-7 years old

A child’s world is expanding, and they are learning to handle new social and academic demands.

They can be focused on playing games and doing other activities. Because of that, it is very difficult for them to transition to other activities while they are having fun. They will usually learn natural consequences for doing this. Sometimes, though, you need to put a stop to them before it’s too late.

Instead, when your child is between 6 and 7 years old and is acting out, you might try logical consequences, positive reinforcement, and negotiation. By now, if they start throwing fits because they don’t want to do their homework, you should say to them that they can’t go to the park if they don’t do their homework.

If they are still throwing a fit, you may try to negotiate with them. By telling them, they are allowed to go to the park if he finishes his homework in 30 minutes.

Remember to always set a limit to their game time, whether before or after their main responsibilities are over. For instance, they can only play for an hour, and then they have to come back for dinner.

8-year-old and above

Because of the internet and video games, some children are truanting from school to play, not doing homework, or getting bad marks at school.

They lack interest in reading and doing other hobbies that have educational benefits. Examples of these educational hobbies are reading books, doing other creative activities, and other skills that they need to be able to do in the future.

If you have to set a consequence, make sure that it corresponds to what the problem is.

One-on-one time with parents is a good consequence for a child who is not listening. However, it is not a good consequence for a child who is throwing a tantrum.

Make sure that the consequence is something that the child does not want to do. If the child wants to stay up late, sending them to bed early is not going to be a good consequence.

Children of this age are learning to associate with others, engage in social behavior, and understand the group they belong to. Verbal discipline is the most effective form of discipline for children this age.

Be fair. If one child gets a consequence and another child does not, the children are going to start to complain.

Smart Ways to Discipline Your Child at Every Age
Photo by Naomi Shi on Pexels

It is important to teach your kids the skills they need in order to practice self-discipline. It is also important that they learn to make good choices. From time to time, kids will need a reminder to stay on track. That’s why your presence and guidance are so important.

When disciplining your child, the ultimate goal of your parenting strategy should be to teach your child to become responsible.

By practicing self-discipline, children are able to delay gratification and resist unhealthy temptations. They also can tolerate the discomfort that is needed for them to reach their long-term goals. Bad behavior is often a result of a lack of self-discipline. Their future success depends on their ability to develop this skill.

For more tips, check out our articles about parenting and children’s development on Mindful Parent. We are here to help you raise your children with mindfulness, love, and understanding.