Discipline for Young Children

By Leah Davies, M.Ed.


What is discipline?  Teaching and training done for the child.
Goals?  --> To help the child:
  • Feel capable.
  • Learn self-control.
  • Learn to respect the rights of others.
  • Learn acceptable rules of behavior.
  • Learn coping skills to use throughout life.
  • Learn to accept responsibility for his or her own behavior.
     
How?
  • Accept and value each child and yourself as an imperfect human being.
  • Establish a routine and schedule. Plan ahead for changes.
  • Make rules simple, clear and appropriate for the child's age.
  • Give attention, approval, smiles, and kind words for appropriate behavior. Observe each child "being good" and give special recognition when it happens, e.g. "Johnny, that was kind of you to share with William."
  • Share your feelings openly so that the child will feel free to share his or her emotions. Read Kelly Bear Feelings often, listening carefully while not judging the child's comments.
  • Avoid threats, spanking, or shaming.
  • Save your loud voice for emergencies.
  • Have a sense of humor, realizing that we all make mistakes.
  • Be consistent, fair and understanding.
  • Encourage the child to express ideas and feelings.
  • Avoid overprotecting, yet keep the child safe.
  • Provide a quiet place where an angry child can calm down.
     
What is punishment?  Verbal abuse and physical retaliation done to the child.
Possible results:
  • Child feels fear, anxiety, resentment, rejection, shame.
  • Child may become devious, aggressive, or extremely shy.
  • Teaches that when you are big you can pick on those who are smaller.
  • Teaches that when you get angry you should strike back and hurt someone.
  • Child feels he or she has no control over life and learns to obey without thinking.
  • Teaches that someone else takes responsibility for the child's behavior.
  • Teaches that someone else decides the rules.
  • Severely punished children often have emotional and social problems. They tend tofeel worthless and have a low self-concept.
    Examples:
    • The angry child who fights and bullies others.
    • The child victim who lets others pick on him or her.
What are the natural or logical consequences of discipline?
  • Allowing a child to experience the results of his or her behavior (if behavior is positive = pleasant results, if negative = unpleasant consequences).
  • Child continually bothers and distracts others. Consequence: child must go to his or her room until child can come out "happy". (No TV, video games or computer use during this time.)
  • Child kicks or throws sand at another child. Consequence: child sits alone. (After a period of time, if the child thinks he or she can play happily, let him try again. But if the behavior continues, quickly remove the child.)
  • Child leaves the yard without permission. Consequence: child must stay inside for a period of time.


Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website [www.kellybear.com]

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80 TEACHER/COUNSELOR ARTICLES11 PARENTING HANDOUTS10 CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES •  HELPFUL PARENTING RESOURCES