Discipline: Stop Before Entering
July 15, 2010 · Posted in Communication, Discipline, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink

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Children need clear limits and guidance. From the end of the first year of life on, setting parameters about what is, and what is not appropriate behavior is the bulk of your job. Setting limits and clear expectations is not a punitive action – it is teaching. The goal is to raise a person who uses good judgment.

Proactive discipline-telling your child what is expected of them up front, increases the likelihood of their following the rules. We often go into situations “hoping” our kids will behave instead of telling them what goals, expectations and consequences exist right off the bat.

For example, before you go into the playground with your four-year old, have a quick conversation:

“Ok, so remember the rules: No hitting, no pushing, no throwing sand. If you do that you will have to sit on the bench with me for a little while. If you do it again then we will have to leave the playground. So what are the rules?”

“No hitting, no throwing sand and no hurting!”

“Right! So let’s go in and have fun.”

Your child has a clear road map of what is to come. The rules, the expectations, and without anger, the consequences. Chances are, your child will not be able to follow those rules on many occasions–that’s part of childhood, they are learning. Your job as a parent is to teach them the rules and follow through on the consequences.

After the upset has died down and everyone is calm, talk about the experience. Hear their perspective and feelings. Let them know that even though they make mistakes, break the rules, have trouble controlling themselves, that there is an open forum to talk about their grievances. Clear rules coupled with deep conversation later helps to stay connected and allows children to understand and control their behavior.

So, worst case scenario you had to take your child from the park kicking and screaming. Next time you go say, “Remember what happened last time when you threw sand? We had to leave.” They will vividly remember. “Follow our rules and we won’t have to go home early!” You’ve got a better chance of follow through on their part this time. This example of limit setting can be applied to almost every situation and activity in your young child’s life. After repetition, you will begin to see their automatic recognition of what is acceptable behavior. Keep in mind – your children are counting on you to guide them.

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