As any parent is well aware, behavior is the number one source of stress with younger children. Getting them to act appropriately and teaching them discipline are among the toughest tasks assigned to any parent.
At Smart Kids Development Center, our focus within the disciplinary realm centers on positive reinforcement. Whether it’s our daycare, preschool or summer camp program, our staff is trained to diffuse issues and teach lessons using positive messages and outlooks. What are some of the basic tenets of this approach from an adult standpoint?
Controlling yourself is just as important as controlling your children during moments of tension. They often can’t control their behavior; you can, and it’s up to you to set a good example. If you handle every problem by yelling and flying off the handle, you’re instilling these same principles. Focus on staying calm – some parents use singing or another coping mechanism to head off those extremely frustrating moments.
It’s important to remember that, in the vast majority of cases, your child is trying as hard as they can. They often lack the focus and attention span to behave exactly as you’d expect, and you have to try your best to put yourself in their shoes during their worst moments. Once you locate the actual root of their behavior, rather than the resulting outburst, you’ll have a much easier time fixing it.
Always remain consistent in your approach. Don’t let a particular behavior slide one day, only to come down on it the next – this sets unrealistic expectations and confuses children. If you have multiple children, be consistent among all of them and don’t show favorites.
There will always be times where you have to tell your child “no” in some form or another, but how you go about this can go a long way. Kids start to tune out simple negatives after a while, so instead, look for positive ways to make the same suggestions. Instead of “don’t touch that hot stove,” go with “come over here and help me with this” or another positive tactic that will distract them from the negative behavior.
It’s common for exasperated parents to use the carrot-and-stick approach to behavior, but with the exception of rare cases where you’re offering a special treat for exceptionally good behavior, this is generally a bad idea. Kids will come to expect rewards just for behaving normally, and might intentionally act badly as a contrast at times just to test the limits of that power. In reality, the reward for good behavior should become quality parent-child time free of sniping and animosity.
Positive discipline is just one of the many foundations of our child care programs at Smart Kids Development Center. Speak with one of our professionals today to learn more.