With younger children, discipline is simply a necessary part of growing up. They’re going to make mistakes and do bad things, and you have to balance behavior-changing reactions with an understanding nature.
At Smart Kids Child Care, we promote positive-but-firm discipline. We recently went over a few ways to foster these positive habits; now let’s go over a few of the major pitfalls parents run into when they’ve been pushed to their disciplinary breaking point.
One of the first shortcuts parents go to in discipline is telling a lie to make things easier for themselves. Say they won’t get out of bed, so you lie and tell them there’s a boogieman who will get them if they stay in past a certain time. It works, and they get up…but they spend the next six months with sleep anxiety, terrified of a fake boogieman.
This theme can happen far too often if you lie to achieve results, even if it may not be that extreme every time. Also, kids will start seeing through this after a certain point, and you’re setting a bad example.
No United Front
In a two-parent situation, both parties need to be on the same page. We all know the old cliché of the good cop/bad cop parent routine, and while it’s cute in the movies, it’s not effective when real discipline is needed. If children think they always have an escape outlet no matter what they do badly, they’ll be more likely to behave negatively. Undermining your partner’s discipline is a quick way to create unfair expectations.
Kids are constantly testing your limits, and if they sense weakness, they’ll pounce. If you’re often promising some vast negative consequence, but never following through even when they don’t change a behavior, don’t think for a second that they won’t notice and try to exploit this every time. If you do what you say, though, they’ll realize that your words carry weight. By a similar token, this means you can’t continually promise severe or outlandish punishments – you might take things too far if you follow through, but you’re setting a bad baseline if you don’t.
Waiting Too Long
Depending on their age, many kids are still developing their memories. If you wait a couple hours to address a behavior you want changed, there’s a real chance they won’t entirely remember, and the lesson won’t stick. By a similar token, if you use future reward as a carrot for current behavior, don’t go too far into the future. This is a concept they may struggle with, and the message might not get home.
Want to learn more about disciplinary tactics, or interested in more information about our day care, preschool and after school programs? Speak to the professionals at Smart Kids Child Care today.