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The Art and Science Behind Disciplining Children
The Art and Science Behind Disciplining Children

A Lot of Patience Will Bring Out the ‘Little Angel’ in Every Child

There’s a “Little Angel” in every child.

This can be hard to believe at times, especially when your child is screaming on the floor of the grocery store simply because you won’t buy frozen pizzas shaped like jungle animals.

While all children act out, they also demonstrate positive behaviors. Why is it that these more angelic traits often come out in the privacy of our homes or cars when no one is around to admire your wonderful parenting skills?

But don’t lose heart! Remember, discipline helps your child develop the skills necessary to behave in an acceptable manner even when you’re not around. Just as children develop inappropriate behaviors, they can also develop good ones. As parents, it’s our job to help children understand the difference between right and wrong and make positive choices as often as possible.

So how do you change the not-so-nice behavior into the kind of behavior that would make your mother proud? With time, patience and consistency!  It can be difficult for busy working parents, but I promise the efforts will be worth it. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Really watch and listen to your child. Do you see a pattern associated with the behavior? Most often children misbehave when they are tired, hungry or expected to sit for long periods of time. This is very similar with adults. First, ask yourself if your expectations are appropriate. This will help set your child up for future success.

Look at your own behavior and expectations. Acting as a role model is the greatest way for your child to learn. What are your true behaviors in the same situations? What are your individual, family and cultural levels of tolerance or acceptance? Reflect on this and make any necessary changes to your behaviors.

Remember that your child is still learning to control their emotions and actions. There have certainly been a lot of times when I’ve wanted to lay down at the checkout aisle of the grocery store and kick and scream. I just stop myself… so far.

Guide your child’s behavior. Set clear, realistic and age-appropriate limits and expectations. Determine expectations by emphasizing safety, respect and responsibility. Use redirection to encourage positive behavior and logical consequences to guide inappropriate behavior. Encourage, support and praise self-control and efforts of self-control. And, be consistent.

When it comes to reacting to your child’s behavior, make sure you respond immediately and consistently. Stop what you are doing and go to your child and speak to them at eye level. Use your natural tone of voice and be positive, but also firm. You can validate your child’s feelings, but in simple terms, also explain what he did wrong and what you want him to do differently.

Also, make sure you do not shame or humiliate your child. Don’t call your child “bad” or indicate that they, rather than the behavior, is the problem. Moralizing or letting too much personal anger, frustration and emotion show can be confusing to your child and can distract from the lesson at hand. And this may go without saying, but you should avoid bribing your child or making false threats.

Remember to build on your child’s success by being positive, patient and consistent. Let them know that you love them and that it’s okay to make mistakes. You make them every day! By following these simple tips, you’ll see that your “Little Angel” will slowly emerge.

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