Do you punish your children when they misbehave or calmly explain why what they did was wrong? Learn what works best.
It’s a situation every parent faces at some point. Your child misbehaves and you have to take swift action to let him or her know a behavior was not acceptable. Some parents raise their voices to let their child know that they mean business. Others use spanking. And there are parents who try to calmly explain to the child why the action was wrong.
It’s true that the same discipline techniques don’t work for every family. But experts suggest that, to be effective, parents must keep a positive attitude and have strategies to both reduce bad behavior and reinforce good behavior.
Tips for positive discipline
Discipline teaches children self-control and helps them understand right from wrong. These skills make them more responsible, independent, and respectful of themselves and others.
If you’ve been frustrated by your child’s poor response to your discipline attempts, take heart. With a little patience and perseverance, you can learn how to correct his or her behavior in a way that your child will be more likely to respond to.
Experts on child behavior recommend the following:
- Tell your children how you want them to behave – don’t rehash what they did wrong. Instead of reminding your child not to hit his or her sibling, tell your child to use words when angry, or tell your child to ask an adult to intervene.
- Give a reason for your child to make a change. Explain it in simple terms so your child can understand. For instance, tell your child that you can fall off and get hurt when jumping on a bed.
- Offer praise when your child responds the right way. If you see your child resisting his or her old ways and trying to do as you’ve asked, tell him or her “good job.” Be positive and encouraging even if your child is only starting to make strides toward the change. A parent’s hug or kiss can make verbal praise even more effective.
- Don’t dwell on small mistakes. Kids can’t be expected to behave perfectly. Try not to scold them for small infractions. They’ll be less likely to pay attention when they really act out if they feel as if they’re always being reprimanded.
- Practice good behavior. “Rehearse” desired responses by engaging your child in a role-playing game. For instance, ask your child to stay calm and not act out when you tell him or her “no.” Then switch roles and let your child tell you “no” while you respond the wrong way. Then let your child correct you.
- Spend special time together. Children love to have their parents’ undivided attention. Even if it’s just for a short while, take time out of your day to focus on your child in a positive way.
- Listen and communicate. When a child feels that a parent is really paying attention to him or her, the child is more likely to do as told.