I really loved all the comments everyone left in Forum Friday: Child Discipline. It was such a great way to share and get advice from people who have figured out what works for them. I found that some things I was already doing partially, I learned I need to just take it all the way to really make it work.
Parenting is obviously something that is a constant learning situation, which is why I think it’s so important to learn from each other. I’m going to summarize the comments here so that you can skim it over for suggestions in case you didn’t have time to read all the comments.
1. Be Consistent. If your child misbehaves, you need to follow through with your typical punishment (time out, losing privileges, etc.) every single time. Even if you are in public, you need to follow through or else your child will learn he/she can get away with things in public.
2. Meet their physical needs. This was a great comment, since so often the source of misbehavior is simply that a child is tired, hungry, or bored. If they seem particularly mischievious, maybe sit them down with a snack or go outside and play with them. And try to be sure they get a nap if you can!
3. Be calm. This one is a toughie for sure, but if you can keep your voice calm when they are acting up, they are more likely to listen to you. You might have to physically carry them to their room if they want to have a full blown tantrum, but if you remain calm and consistently do it this way, their behavior should improve.
4. Break down chores into small, manageable tasks to avoid whining. Ask them to collect all the dirty clothes on the floor and put them in the hamper. Or pick up 10 toys. Help them if they seem overwhelmed with the small tasks.
5. Don’t tolerate hitting or violence. Send them to time-out so they can have a few minutes removed from the situation, then have them apologize to the person they hurt–give a hug/kiss and say “I will try to be nicer to you in the future.” If they are too young for that, hold their arms in a tight hug each time they hit…if you are consistent hopefully they will learn not to hit.
6. Spend one on one time with your child. I read this in a parenting book–spend 10 minutes of special time with ONLY you and one of your children each day, let them pick the activity and devote your whole attention to it. If you can do 10 minutes two different times of day that is ideal, it keeps their ‘attention basket’ filled. Parents who did this every day with their children saw an improvement in behavior. (However if you’re like me and time is scarce, just do the best you can.)
7. For toddlers, try talking to them in their own language when they are upset. Acknowledge their frustration, get down on their level. “You’re mad! Jake is mad at mommy!” Once they calm down, quietly talk to them. “But we need to pick up our toys now.”
8. Try a reward system. Make a sticker chart or have a jar they can fill with buttons or marbles for good choices. Or try to do a color system showing the child which behavior color they should aim for (blue-exceptional, green-good, yellow-slight misbehavior, red-behaving poorly.)
9. Praise them for good choices, positive reinforcement. This can be hard to remember to do when everyone is quietly playing. But these are the wonderful moments we need to thank them for, “thank you for playing so nicely with your brother! You make mommy so happy when you behave that way.”
10. Whatever the punishment, follow up with extra love. After the punishment is over, give your child a quick hug or tell them you love them even when they make bad choices. The most important thing is to help your child feel safe and secure around you, even when you get upset with them.