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How should I discipline my 4 years old son?

Q: My 4 years old son has become really disobedient off late. He does not ask for permission to go out and play in the park, and plays in dirty soil. He picks up fight with other children, beats the children who trouble him. He does not eat on his own. I still have to feed him. I have to accompany him for sleeping as he does not sleep on his own. He dislikes writing but is good at reading, counting, drawing etc. His teachers say he is good at school and studies well. Usually, I don’t beat him but these days I end up beating him and feel guilty. How should I discipline him?

A:I think you must review what you consider the role of parent. It seems as though you have a set idea of what a child should do and be like. Then you get angry and frustrated. First of all, stop beating him. You are right to feel guilty because you are causing pain and distress to a child who cannot defend himself. At 4-5 years of age, all children like to have their mother or father sit next to them while they fall asleep. Bedtimes are wonderful moments for developing a bond with the child. I do not see why you resent it. There are hundreds of bedtime stories for children. You should look them up and select some for telling. Children do not care about getting dirty when they play. They should enjoy playing and wash up when they come back from play. The child should be allowed to sit with the adults and eat, so that he learns how to do so. If you feed him every time, how will he learn? Give him food that is easy to pick up and is not too hot. Find out what he likes and make something special for him. Talk to his teachers. If they are happy with his progress, why are you worried? Children will obey rules that they see to be reasonable and not arbitrary. Persuade him, explaining the reason for the rule. Make sure he gets enough sleep and rest. Sometimes children get more excitement than they can handle. Meet the other mothers informally so that they can also suggest easy ways of rearing your child. I do not think he has any problem. He seems high spirited and natural. Relax you are not commanding an army!

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