How to Discipline Children: What Works, What Doesn't
Children need to understand right from wrong, but how best to get the message across? Clue: not by nagging or shouting...(10 Photos)
Your Into-Everything Toddler
So your toddler thinks it's 'fun' to tip out the contents of your handbag, unravel the roll of toilet paper or drop your favourite mug onto the kitchen floor? With very young children, there's no point in 'disciplining' as such - he is unlikely to make the connection between the deed and punishment (e.g. having a favourite toy confiscated).
In fact, he may even feel 'rewarded' by the attention that's being heaped upon him. Instead, a short, sharp 'No' conveys the message that you're not at all pleased. Deal with the situation as quickly as you can, then distract your child with something else.GETTY IMAGES
Does Time Out Really Work?
It can do, in that it gives your child time to calm down after an incident. It can give you a breather too, and takes some out of the heat out of the situation. A few minutes in a specific place - say, on the bottom stair, or on a chair in a bedroom - is enough for a preschool child (a minute for each year of a child's age is a common guideline - too long, and they'll simply forget why they're there).
However, don't persevere if it's not working for you. 'Charlie just sits there giggling,' says Allie, 34, of her four-year-old. 'If he's done something naughty, it's more effective for me to ban TV for a day.'GETTY IMAGES
When it comes to discipline, one in three parents restricts their child's access to their phone, iPod, computer or games console. Or perhaps you'll dock your child's allowance or pocket money.
Don't enter into a lengthy debate - just speak calmly and succinctly, then move onto something else. While your chosen method of discipline should have an impact on your child, it is perhaps more important that they fully grasp what you find unacceptable, and howtheir actions have affected others. For example, you could say, 'I can't allow you to break your sister's things, then lie about what really happened. It's stressful for me and makes it hard to trust you.'GETTY IMAGES
Don't Pump Up The Volume
While your instinct may be to shout, studies have shown that yelling often makes kids tune out, or act deviously to avoid incurring your wrath. Instead, use a firm voice - making your request once, then again. Finally, if they still won't cooperate, follow up with a consequence.
This 'two chances' approach helps to avoid nagging (the average child is told off twice a day - is it any wonder they stop listening sometimes?). Plus, they'll understand that when you make a firm request, you really do mean business.GETTY IMAGES
Lying and Stealing
While it's distressing for you, bear in mind that most children lie and steal sometimes, and that it's often a way of testing boundaries and seeing what they can get away with. However, of course it's unacceptable, so explain - using your firm voice - why they mustn't do it.
It's also important that children understand that stealing always hurts someone. You may feel it's appropriate for them to return the item and say sorry. However, don't go on and on about it, or label your child a 'thief' - once it's been dealt with, put the incident behind you
More Than Naughty
If worrying behaviours (such as lying, stealing or hitting other children) are persistent, consider if something is causing your child to act like this. Children sometimes start behaving in a challenging way if they feel jealous of others, have low esteem, or are worried about a particular issue.
Set aside time to chat in a gentle, relaxed way, so your child doesn't feel as if she is being interrogated.
If you want a confidential, toll-free resource to get advice from, try the Canada-wide Parents Helpline number (1-888-603-9100). It's a 24-hour service we can all rely on.GETTY IMAGES
That is, no friends over and no socialising out of the house for a specified period. Do stick to your guns, even if it's tempting to give in and allow them to go to a specific event. If you dither or crumble under pressure, your child will regard you as a pushover and be less likely to take you seriously next time.GETTY IMAGES
A Matter Of Trust
Older children often push boundaries because they crave more freedom and independence. 'We put a lot of focus on trust,' says Annie, 42, mum to boys of 14 and 16. 'I explain that they are allowed to have camp-outs with friends because I trust that they won't smoke, smuggle out alcohol or do anything reckless. But they also know that, if they break that trust, then those privileges will be withdrawn.'
Discuss how you feel when trust is broken - e.g. hurt and let down - whilst conveying the message that you expect them to behave well, because they are smart, trustworthy young people.GETTY IMAGES
Choose Your Battles
The average child is told off twice a day, according to a survey by the UK's Cadet Services - so is it any wonder they often zone out? Instead, take a moment to consider whether something warrants a telling off or a consequence, or if you can let it pass this time.
When you do need to discipline your child, make full eye contact, and be succinct and firm - they're more likely to listen that way. Remember to praise them, too, when they've shown self-control. All too often, we hone in on negative behaviour instead of appreciating what our children do well.GETTY IMAGES
Does Discipline Really Matter?
Of course, no parent enjoys disciplining their child. According to the British Cadet Services survey, a quarter of us don't do it at all, for fear of appearing unfair or too strict. Yet helping your child to know right from wrong is far from unfair. It's essential for their confidence and ability to get along with people of all ages - and, further down the line, it helps them to become successful, well-rounded adults.
Bear in mind that children of overly permissive parents often find it difficult to exercise self-control. In contrast, a child who respects boundaries - and other people's feelings - is a pleasure to have around. And what parent could wish for more than that?GETTY IMAGES