How to Properly Discipline Young Children

There has been much debate on how to properly discipline young children. Since young children don’t comprehend like adults do and because they are still learning right from wrong, it is very important to stay patient with your child when disciplining them. You must take into account that they don’t rationalize the way adults do. With that being said, it is important to stay consistent and firm when setting up rules and consequences if your child does something wrong. Not staying consistent will mean your child will think he or she can get away with anything because you will not stay firm in consequences of bad behavior. From the second your baby is born, he or she is naturally curious and wants to learn about everything. The whole world is new to an infant and toddler so understand that they will be more inquisitive than an older child or adult. First and foremost, make sure to keep all dangerous items away from young babies and toddlers. Dangerous items include cleaning supplies, matches, candles, sharp objects, small objects that they can choke on, outlets, cords, and electronic devices just to name a few. When your child heads towards a dangerous item or object (like something they can hurt his or her head on) firmly tell them, “No,” and turn them to something else they are allowed to play with to distract them. This may happen several times a day.

Toddlers can receive timeouts for hitting, misbehaving, having a tantrum, biting, throwing food, etc. Explain to them why the timeout is happening and place them on a chair near you or somewhere where they have to think about what they did and realize there is an “un-fun” consequence to misbehaving. They should be in timeout approximately 1 minute per age level but more important than the time is that they understand what inappropriate behavior was used.  After the consequence, ask them to apologize. Longer timeouts don’t seem to be too effective. In this case, taking away favorite toys or movies are usually quite effective.  Jolly Fun House likes to call timeouts “Stop & Think.”

Spanking, hitting, slapping, or yelling at your child is strongly discouraged. Young children don’t correlate physical pain to something they did wrong so it is extremely ineffective and can be very damaging to them. The same goes for older children – physical harm should never be used on any child. We also believe in the phrase, “Monkey see, monkey do.” This means that children learn from their parents and other adults behavior so set a good example for them to follow.

It’s important for parents to set the tone for how the house is managed and for the children to understand “Who is the boss?” They need to know that as parents, you set the ground rules and they, the children, are expected to listen. As children get older, they will understand right from wrong and there should be less discipline time and more enjoyment time. Don’t be weak when setting the ground rules and sticking to them. Children understand at a young age, usually around 2, if they can get away with things. If you start to get weak in discipline, your child will become boss and it will cause a lot of hardships along the way. Firmly disciplining your child does not mean you don’t love him or her – in fact, it means you love your child enough to want them to be behaved, kind, loving children that will one day grow to be nice adults that can follow rules effectively and respectfully. Stay strong because you LOVE your child.