It’s natural to want to discipline your child, but some parents do it in a way that only escalates the problem. Here are some smart ways to discipline your child at every age.
You can’t expect to be perfect.
Discipline isn’t about being perfect. There will be times when you say the wrong thing or make a mistake. If you’re upset, it’s especially easy to make mistakes, so take a deep breath and don’t give up.
It’s also OK to change your mind and give in to your child sometimes. When kids feel they have some control over their lives, they are more likely to cooperate.
Know your limits and set them early on.
If you have kids of different ages, it’s easy for one kid to manipulate the other by saying, “Mommy always lets me get away with stuff.” If you’re not consistent, it’ll only get worse as the kids get older.
If you have an older child who wants more freedom but isn’t ready for it yet, tell him what you’ll do if he doesn’t follow the rules and stick with it even if he complains or throws a fit.
Find the right balance between being firm and flexible so that both of you can win some battles. Letting your kid watch TV for an extra half-hour after bedtime once in a while is OK if she helps out around the house more often.
Focus on what your child can do instead of what he can’t.
Don’t give your child the message that he’s bad or has done something wrong when you discipline him. Instead, tell him what he did well and what you want him to do next time.
You can also offer your child a choice between two consequences: For example, if she loses her temper and yells at her brother, she can either lose TV privileges for the rest of the day or be in charge of the remote control for one hour every day for a week.
Stay calm when you’re disciplining your child.
If you’re yelling and losing your temper, it’s hard to get through to your child because she doesn’t feel safe with you anymore.
Try to take a deep breath and remain calm so that you don’t escalate the situation even more by giving in to your anger or making it worse by saying something hurtful. It’s also important not to criticize yourself while disciplining your child; this only worsens things.