One of the many aspects of parenting that can be most challenging is discipline. Instilling discipline in young children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, can be easier said than done. It’s one of the toughest parts of the job, and yet, it’s also one of the most important. As parents, we wear many hats as we juggle the demands of work and home, which can take a significant toll on our stress level and parenting. When we’re feeling extremely stressed or overextended, it can cloud our judgment and cause us to impose punitive discipline. Instead of repeatedly yelling and exhausting all of your energy getting mad at your child, you might consider using positive discipline with your preschooler instead.
Contrary to resorting to punitive measures, positive discipline doesn’t use force to solve problems and address challenging behaviors. Instead, it teaches and guides children about making appropriate choices while building a positive parent-child relationship. These changes will not happen overnight as your little one learns to adopt more desirable behaviors. However, there are ways you can practice positive discipline with your preschooler. Take a look at these tips!
Understand the root cause of the behavior
Children don’t just misbehave for no reason. There’s always an underlying reason why they may throw their toys , hit their sibling, or have a meltdown. One of the things parents need to do is to find out why the child is acting this way. Maybe your child is having a meltdown because he or she is desperately trying to get your attention. Perhaps your little one has hit his or her sibling because of feelings of jealousy.
Correcting negative behaviors isn’t about punishing the child for his or her actions. It’s about understanding the cause of the behavior so that you can find the best way to address it.
Control your reactions instead of controlling your child
As parents, we need to remember that our kids closely observe the things we say and do. If we want to foster good behavior in our children, we need to model the types of behavior we want them to emulate. Instead of yelling and hitting kids for misbehaving, pay attention to your reactions first. Control how you react before trying to control the behavior of your child.
This also applies to everything else in life. Set a good example for your child if you want them to behave appropriately. They observe how you respond to various circumstances, both good and bad. Make an effort to keep your words, actions and even your tone of voice in check.
Learn how to empathize
Many parents feel stressed and frustrated from time to time when dealing with preschoolers’ challenging behavior. While it can be tough for us to remain calm in these situations, it is helpful for us to try to empathize with our kids. Children need to receive consequences for negative actions. But as parents, it’s also important that we help them feel understood.
You may say something like, “I understand you were upset because your brother destroyed your favorite toy, but hitting him is not acceptable.” Then you can give your child a reasonable consequence.
Encourage appropriate behaviors
Preschoolers and toddlers may have a tantrum or act out because that’s their way of seeking your attention. It’s natural for young kids to crave their parents’ attention as a means of feeling loved and secure. Since whining and tantrums aren’t the best way to communicate their needs, we need to encourage them to learn more appropriate ways to receive attention.
For example, you can invite your child to help you with something around the home or assign your little one a task that makes him or her feel capable and needed. This is an excellent way to channel their energy in constructive ways.
Try to redirect instead of saying “no”
Another tip for practicing positive discipline with your preschooler is to redirect your child’s behavior instead of saying “no” all the time. When children constantly hear the word “no”, it can make them feel they are not capable. It can also make them feel they’re always being given commands and that they can’t do anything right.
Instead of focusing on what they can’t do, it can help for you to show them what they can do. Replace the misbehavior by asking your child to do something more productive and positive. For example, if you’re at the grocery store, instead of saying, “No we can’t buy that bag of chips,” you may ask your child to go look for some fruits and vegetables they’d like to have for dinner.
Instilling positive discipline in preschoolers can be easier said than done. Try using these tips to help you raise cooperative and well-behaved kids who learn to make more positive choices.
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