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Disciplining a Young Child

Posted on 11-10-2016

There are many questions relating to effective ways to discipline young children. “When should I begin disciplining my child? How should I discipline?” These questions are not easy to answer because every child is different and responds differently. However, effective discipline teaches and instructs. It does not harm and belittle. Effective discipline leads a child to better behavior in a manner that never leaves him feeling unloved.

A parent’s challenge in disciplining is to help the child make better choices, avoid poor decisions, and create a better future. Of course, this probably won’t happen on the first try, but effective discipline patiently strives to help the child as often as required for the child to understand and embrace better behavior and choices. Effective discipline is a form of training a child or teaching her how to behave within her realm of development and understanding.

When disciplining a child, be sure the behavior you are correcting is not a part of the “normal developmental range” of behaviors. Early childhood experts understand that it is normal for young children to have tantrums.

Some children enjoy playing chase and saying, “No,” when you say, “Yes.” If you punish for these natural behaviors, you are taking away a normal step in the child’s developmental ladder of growth. Although experts counsel that when a child is behaving inappropriately for her age and outside of her normal realm, parents, daycare, childcare, and preschool providers should use redirection, not time out.

An example of redirection is to move the child to another area of the room and get her interested in another activity. Whenever a child is involved, alternative activities should be prepared in advance. Time out or “reflection” does not work for very young children because the young child does not comprehend how to “reflect” on the behavior for which they are being punished. This is an abstract form of thinking, and a young child’s brain has not yet learned how to process reflection on a wrong behavior.

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