As toddlers and children explore the world around them, they learn multiple things! Among other things, they also learn how to interact with others and develop their own personalities. Discipline is an important part of this process, but it can be challenging to know where to start. Even though discipline as a term may seem harsh, it is not as scary as it sounds. As parents and guardians, it is our job to guide them through this process and teach them how to behave appropriately—how to be vocal about their emotions and feelings.
Here are some tips and tricks to help parents and guardians like yourself better communicate with your children, based on expert advice.
Start with positive reinforcement!
Using positive reinforcement is an effective way to encourage good behaviour in toddlers and young children. Praise your child when they do something good, and try to focus on what they are doing right rather than what they are doing wrong.
Use simple words.
Most parents often use too many words or unclear sentences when communicating with their little ones, especially when you get annoyed at their actions when they are wrong. Using too many words and big-person language is too much for little minds to grasp.
There is no point in losing your temper or being angry with them, as they will not understand. It will only confuse and overwhelm them further. Instead, use simple words to guide them. For example, instead of using phrases like "Stop it!" and "No!" or "Settle down," use complete sentences and tell them what to do next.
Introduce emotions from an early age.
It is recommended that parents speak to their toddlers and children about emotions from an early age. Introduce feelings to children at a young age and inform them about general emotions with words like sad, hurt, happy, pain, sleepy, hungry, love, etc. As you start, it will be evident that they will not understand it, but over time, it will be a good base for them to let you know how they feel during tantrums or when they have a good or bad episode.
Consistency is vital when it comes to disciplining your little ones. If you let your child get away with something one day but not the next, they may become confused and unsure of what is expected of them. Set clear boundaries and stick to them, even if it means saying no to something your child insists he wants.
Use natural consequences.
Instead of punishing your child for misbehaviour, try using natural consequences. For example, if your child refuses to eat dinner, serve it as usual. However, if they do not eat, they may go to bed hungry. This way, your child learns that their actions have consequences without feeling like they are being punished.
Time-outs can be effective.
Time-outs can be an effective way to discipline children who are a little older. If your child is disobedient, calmly tell them they must take a break and go to a designated spot for a few minutes. This gives them time to calm down and think about their actions.
Avoid physical punishment at all costs.
Physical punishment, such as spanking, throwing things away from them, and breaking items, can have negative effects on children's emotional and mental well-being. It can also teach children that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems. Instead, use non-physical methods of discipline.
Be patient; it is a process.
Remember that disciplining a young mind is a learning process for you and your child. It will take time, patience, and consistency to develop good habits and behaviours. It is a slow learning process, and you both are trying your best. Be patient with your child and yourself, and celebrate the small victories.
Disciplining children can be challenging, but it is an integral aspect of parenting. Children learn a lot from us adults merely by observing and copying what we do. As parents and guardians, it is our duty to be gentle with them yet stern when required.
Disciplining children is an ongoing process. How we deal with them and how we explain and speak to them matters a lot more than we understand. It is a must that we remain calm and patient with our kids as they learn and explore new things and process their feelings and emotions. Over time, your direction will help them develop good behaviours and habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.