How many times have those words come out of your mouth? It’s time to talk about one of the hardest parts of being a parent; how to discipline your child. Everyone has an opinion about the best way to do it, but we aren’t here to dictate the best way to you. This month, we want to give you some insight as to why your child misbehaves and hopefully give you some solutions to help you.
As parents it is our job to reinforce good behavior and lessons with consistency, patience and compassion, but what is the best way to do that? Have you ever thought to yourself, why is my child acting this way? In order to be the best parent we can be, it is important to get past the behavior and look at the motivation behind it.
One of the hardest parts of being a parent is having to discipline your child. No child is perfect and misbehavior is inevitable, but it is so frustrating!
Try to look at this responsibility in a new way. Punishments are unavoidable, but view it as an opportunity to teach your child how to behave. Also, try to understand why your child is behaving that way in the first place. When a young child misbehaves, they are telling you in the only way they know how that they are feeling discouraged, frustrated or angry. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Are they intentionally trying to act up or are they being curious? Think of times that your child has misbehaved and look at what else is going on at the time. Are you busy on the phone or making dinner? Is your focus on a sibling or another adult? How long has it been since they had your focus? Sometimes when you stop and look at the big picture, it is easier to understand your child. Perhaps a slight change on your part can improve your child’s focus as well!
Consistency truly is key when it comes to discipline and it is crucial for preschoolers. Little ones may need to hear something thirty times (sometimes more) before it starts to sink in! As hard as it is, you have to be firm on what you expect from your child. Decide what behavior you will allow (or not allow) and stick with it. Don’t send mixed signals! Don’t fail to set limits because you don’t like to see your child frustrated. Giving in to demands just encourages them to pitch a fit the next time they don’t get their way. There has to be a balance. We all need limits. The younger a child is, the more defined those limits should be. You are the one who must teach them what is acceptable and what is not. The world would be a very scary place if there were no limits.
Preschoolers are very curious by nature. We want our children to explore and discover the world, but they have to be safe. They also have a fairly short attention span. Make sure you take away temptations to misbehave. Remove them from the area. Redirect them to a new activity and/or location. Offer them something to do that will not result in bad behavior.
Be on the same page
Make sure that everyone who is responsible for your child is on the same page as far as behavior and what is okay. If there are different rules at home than there are at grandma’s house, it will be very easy for misbehaving to occur. Be a model for your child’s behavior. Show your kids what you want them to do. If they are playing too rough, show them how to play nice. Make it very clear what you expect from them. This way there is no question whether or not they understand. You must be involved in raising your child. They aren’t just going to automatically know how to behave.
There of course will be times that consequences are necessary. This is where parents use different techniques like warnings, time outs, or withholding privileges or treats. Different consequences will work differently on each child. You may have to discover what is effective for your child. Whatever you do, don’t discipline your child out of anger. Count to ten and cool off before you act. An important tip, praise good behavior. Acting out is a sure-fire way to get attention. Praising them when they are doing well lets your child know that they don’t just get attention by misbehaving. Show them that good behavior will also get them the attention that they crave.
Discipline is not about what we are doing to our kids, but rather what we are doing for them. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Give them the training they need. Make it easy for your child to do the right thing!
Thank you for joining us at parentministry.net for this month’s online parenting class. Our topic today is one that we as parents have to deal with probably every day…how and when to discipline our child.
We’ve all been there, in a public place and you hear a child pitching a fit, misbehaving or crying. We’ve all thought to ourselves, “If that were my child…(fill in the blank)”. And you know what, sooner or later, it will be your child. Even the most even-tempered child has their bad days. Misbehavior is so frustrating. None of us want to raise a spoiled brat, but we also want to foster independence and let them be their own person. How do you balance it?
Deciding how to discipline your child is something that is up to every parent. However, it is also very important to learn why kids misbehave and how we can make the most out of a trying and hard situation. When dealing with preschoolers, it may be beneficial to look at discipline as an opportunity for teaching, rather than a source of punishment. Most of the time, kids aren’t trying to be malicious, they are just being kids and they don’t think the same way adults do. Things that may make sense to us can be a foreign concept to them. Sometimes parents can overreact out of anger and frustration and not see the behavior for what it is…your child just being a child. You’ve just caught them coloring on the wall. To you, it’s a horrible mess and you don’t understand why they would do that. To a two year old, it is a masterpiece that they worked so hard on after they found some crayons! It is up to us to teach them what kind of behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
The most important thing to remember when approaching discipline is to be consistent. Decide which behavior you will allow and stick with it. These limits will be different for each family. What works for your friends, what they allow their children to do may not be right for your family. As a parent, it is your job to set limits for your child. Everyone, regardless of age, needs limits. The younger the child, the more defined the limits need to be. Limits, within reason, provide security. Don’t look at it as a restriction, but a way to protect your curious child.
Many times, children act out because they want attention. That may not make sense to us because they are getting in trouble, but they crave attention at this age regardless of the kind. Make sure that you are praising your child for what they do well. Show them that they will receive attention for good behavior. Also, make sure that you are on the same page as your spouse when it comes to family rules. Mixed messages will only confuse your child and make it harder on everyone.
I have two children of my own and I don’t think I could have been blessed with two any different from each other! My son has a precious, tender-hearted soul. His emotions are always just below the surface and he is definitely my worrier, the one always concerned about others. My daughter on the other hand is my free spirit, stubborn and fiercely independent. She has an opinion about everything and she’s not afraid to tell you about it! My husband and I have learned very early on that the same parenting techniques don’t work the same for them. We have to change things up depending on which child we are dealing with at that time.
Parenting is hard work and some days go much more smoothly than others. Make a plan for when those bad days happen and stick with it. Provide a consistent environment for your child. It will help them to understand what is expected of them and what the consequences are if they misbehave. Today we have just scratched the surface of discipline and our preschoolers. Later this month be watching for our next parenting class email. We will dig a little deeper into some techniques and tools that will hopefully help you to make a plan that works for your family and maybe give some insight that you haven’t considered before when it comes to discipline.