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How do you discipline a child of this age?
What is positive discipline?
How to deal with a stubborn child?
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
  • How do you discipline a child of this age?

    Ages 0 to 2

    Babies and toddlers are naturally curious, and the best way to discipline a young child is to eliminate temptations. A child who has been hitting, biting, or throwing food, should be told why that behaviour is unacceptable, and try to calm him for a minute or two.

    Never spank, hit, or slap a child of any age. Babies and toddlers are especially unlikely to be able to make any connection between their behaviour and the physical punishment. They will only feel the pain of the spanking. Do not forget that children learn by watching you. Make sure that your behaviour is perfect as it has a strong impact on the child’s behaviour.

    Ages 3 to 5

    As your child grows, he begins to understand the connection between actions and consequences. It is important to explain to him what you expect of him before you punish him for a certain behaviour. For instance, the first time your child uses crayons to decorate the living room wall, you should discuss why that is not allowed and what will happen if it's done again. Explain to him that he will have to help keep the walls clean. If he repeats this act again, you should remind him that crayons are for paper only and then enforce the consequences.

    It is sometimes easier for parents to ignore occasionally bad behaviour. It is important for you as parents to decide together what the rules are and then be consistent in upholding them. At the same time you become clear on what behaviours will be punished and do not forget to reward good behaviours. Discipline is not just about punishment. Parents need to remember to recognize and reward good behaviour as well.

    Ages 6 to 8

    Timeouts and consequences are effective discipline strategies with this age group. Consistency is important at this stage. The child should be made to believe that you mean what you say. You should try and follow through with what you say. Be careful not to make unrealistic threats of punishment in anger, since not following through could weaken all your threats. Severe punishments may take away your power as a parent. The child may not feel motivated to change his behaviour.

    Ages 9 to 12

    The child in this age group, just as with all ages, can be disciplined with natural consequences. As he matures and requests more independence and responsibility, teaching him to deal with the consequences of his behavior is an effective and appropriate method of discipline. For example, if your child has not done his homework before bedtime and goes to school without it the next day he faces the consequences. He will realize automatically what behaving improperly can mean, and will probably not make those mistakes again. However, if your child does not seem to be learning from natural consequences, you should set up your own consequences to help him modify his behaviour more effectively.

    Ages 13 and above

    By now your child knows what is expected of him and knows that you mean what you say about the consequences of bad behaviour. Don't let down your guard now, as discipline is just as important for teens as it is for younger children. Make sure to set up rules regarding homework, visits by friends, and discuss them beforehand with your teenager so that there will be no misunderstandings. He will probably complain from time to time, even as you grant him greater freedom and responsibility.

    When your child does break a rule, taking away privileges may seem to be the best plan of action. It is also important to give a teenager some control over his life. It will help him to respect the decisions you make for him.
  • What is positive discipline?

    The key to success is for parents to establish their authority over the child without putting them on the offensive and getting into a power struggle. The child, just like other people, do not react well to taking orders. The instinct is to rebel and the parents’ automatic reaction is to exert further pressure. The child must get the message that discipline is for their own good.

    Many times children distract their parents with their naughtiness and disobedience. On such occasions, parents may see no other option but to give the children a good spanking. While this does not cause serious damage if it is a rare occurrence, it has been observed that children whose parents discipline them by hitting, nagging, or shouting at them on a regular basis, have a tendency to be more violent and aggressive than other children who are disciplined through other means.

    Another important thing is that parents should keep in mind that when they rebuke their child, they should make them understand that it is a specific behaviour that is under criticism and not the child himself. The child must feel that he is not a bad person, but that he has not behaved correctly in a particular situation.

    Punishment should be aimed at making child understand the consequences of their actions and to take responsibility for their actions.
  • How to deal with a stubborn child?

    Stubbornness in children has always been viewed as a negative trait by parents. But may be they should attempt to look upon it in a more positive fashion. A child's stubbornness may just be his way of demonstrating that he can think for himself. Stubbornness gives him a feeling that he has a measure of control over the situation, which in turn, boosts his self-esteem. Parents should also make an effort to understand the root of their children's stubbornness. Stubbornness can have a range of causes. It may vary from irrational fears to resistance to change or just a simple attack of rebellion. Do not get angry or argue with them. Simply state your stand, the reasons for it and the consequences of disobedience. Then follow through. If the issue is not serious, there is no harm negotiating with your child and arriving at a compromise. In some situations, it may be more effective to just let go without any opposition.

    Some useful tips:
    • Identify the problem and involve your child in seeking a solution. In this way he will feel that you are both on the same side.
    • If you want your child to do something, try to time your request so that it does not interrupt him while he is doing something else. This is one way of avoiding conflict.
    • If your child is not very happy about change, give him adequate notice so that he knows what to expect and is willing to cooperate.
    • Be assertive when asking your child to do something. You are not asking them for a favour. Also, make clear the consequences of non-compliance.
    • Keep in mind that your requests should be reasonable. Praise your child when he is cooperative and well behaved.

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