Discipline and setting rules
Discipline?! Up until recently a light slap on the bum for your own child didn’t seem unusual at all, in fact when I was younger, it seemed like parents gave EXTRA thought into new uses for general household equipment to be used as tools of discipline (wooden spoon, flip-flops, belt etc)- of course, this was no fun for any recipient, regardless of how light the flip-flop throw was.
in 2014, after countless years of teaching in public schools, being a mother to 2 beautiful girls and now running my own centre, I’ve had time to think about how best to speak with a frustrated child (best suited to children up to 12 years old).
When you are explaining the rules to your child, make sure:
- Your message is clear- Keep it simple and to the point - if you give too much information, your child may become confused by what you’re telling them.
- Have the same understanding of the rules- Once you’ve told them what you expect, make sure that they then tell you what they think you mean. Be explicit with your instructions to avoid confusion.
- Get the timing right- Ensure that they are actively listening to you when you’re talking to them. Keep distraction to a minimum so your message has the best chance of being heard.
- Be realistic about your child’s capabilities- Don’t ask them to perform tasks that are too difficult, or behave in a manner that is well out of their reach. Know what their limits are and take it from there.
- Be willing to go with their decision- if you give your child a choice they may not respond in the manner that you expected, so consider carefully whether you’re prepared to go with their wishes, before you give choices.
- Don’t send mixed messages- Don’t speak in one way and display body language that tells them something else again – they will only get confused.
- Follow through with warnings and consequences- If you don’t, you may find it hard to get them to take you seriously down the track.
Various discipline techniques work differently for different children, depending on their age and temperament. Here are a few tips and ideas:
- “Microphone please!”- Don’t allow your child to give you a performance. If they are having a tantrum, check that it’s safe and then walk away and give them some room to vent their feelings. Without giving too much of your attention as they are more likely to settle quickly and without too much fuss.
- “Quick! Look over there!”- Distract your child’s attention away from the negative behaviour by physically removing them, or introducing a different game/ toy. Or try starting a conversation about a new topic.
- “Hello young one!”- Try stopping negative behaviour by getting down to eye level and very firmly but calmly saying ‘no’.
- “Are you sure…?”- Use natural consequences as discipline to let your child learn that there are results or consequences to their actions - if they throw a toy out the car window, then it will be gone forever and they won’t be able to play with it anymore.
- “Are you very sure?”- Use logical consequences to teach positive behaviour - if they leave their bike out and you have to put it away, then they won’t be able to ride it for the rest of the day.
- “Break-time ref”- Use Time Out to reinforce desirable behaviour.
- “Yellow card”- Withhold privileges as a consequence for negative behaviours.
Yours in love,
Have you got any more advice to share with other parents and carers? Do you have any improvements to these suggestions? Let me know! All constructive feedback is welcome!
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