You’re exhausted and your child isn’t making things any easier. This is yet another day when he misbehaves at dinner table, throws a tantrum and refuses to get into bed. Do you shout and scream or discipline constructively?
Discipline is important for children - and your sanity. It teaches children what is acceptable and unacceptable, sets boundaries and makes them feel secure. However, many of us are inconsistent – letting things go unnoticed and then being extra harsh the next time.
Discipline is hard work, but believe me, it pays in the long run. How can you cope with disciplinary dilemmas?
Choose a strategy
Decide on a form of discipline (e.g. time-out or star charts) and stick to it. Your child needs to know what the consequences are of bad behaviour.
Use eye contact
Don’t shout from another room. Walk up to your child and look him in the eye.
Give clear instructions and walk away. If he doesn’t comply, implement consequences without discussion.
A star chart is a handy discipline accomplice. Make a list of desirable behaviours (only one or two at a time for pre-school children) and reward your child with stars. At the end of the week (or day for small children), your child can trade in the stars for a treat.
Another effective discipline strategy: Use a kitchen timer to time these sessions – increase time incrementally with age, e.g. two years old - two minutes; three years old – three minutes.
Always a good idea, especially if your children are older. Draw up an agenda and allow all members to discuss ideas and concerns.
Whatever your strategy, be consistent. Inconsistency not only guarantees failure, but increases your child’s anxiety levels. – (Ilse Pauw, Health24, updated February 2008)