Disciplining Your Child at Any Age
Each child is different, but most children need to be given clear rules about behavior. Discipline needs to start as soon as a child is pulling up and crawling. Infants rely on their parents to provide a safe environment. Discipline should be adjusted by the age of your child. And it should teach age-appropriate behaviors.
Things to keep in mind
Some general values about discipline include:
Be a good role model for your child.
Try to recognize and praise your child when they are being good.
Make sure rewards for good behavior happen right away.
Hug your child after using discipline. Make sure the child knows it’s the behavior you’re not happy with, not your child.
Don’t use physical punishment.
How to lessen unwanted behavior
Try not to reward a child or give positive support for a bad behavior. For example, if your child is having a tantrum, giving them a cookie to be quiet is a reward for the bad behavior. To help lessen bad behavior, try these tactics:
Don’t give positive support for bad behavior. Instead, try ignoring the behavior.
Have the behavior result in an unpleasant result, such as punishment.
Punishment has 2 forms, including:
Denying your child privileges or a desired activity. This may be limiting TV or screen time, or saying "no" to dessert.
Requiring an activity that isn’t fun. This may include doing chores, or having a “time out.”
A behavior can also have a natural result that’s like punishment. For example, a child who won’t eat may go to bed hungry.
Keep in mind that spanking and other forms of physical punishment aren’t helpful. This type of discipline teaches a child aggressive behavior.
Tips for discipline by age
Discipline often depends on the age of a child, and how much they understand their behavior. These are some tips for discipline by age group.
Babies and toddlers
Safety is the main concern. Provide a safe environment that decreases the chances of things being broken by the child.
Babies will respond to a loud, firm voice saying "no."
After saying "no," direct your child to a good behavior, such as a toy.
Don’t reward bad behavior. Ignore temper tantrums. But confront other problems, such as biting or hitting.
Praise and reward good behavior.
Preschoolers need clear and consistent rules.
This age group needs time to get ready for the next activity. Give your child a warning before it’s time to stop playing.
Preschoolers need lots of explanation as to why things are being done.
Use time-out for bad behavior.
Use praise for good behavior.
Give your child chances to explain their side and opinion.
Let your child express their feelings and concerns.
Give your child choices.
Give your child chances to help solve problems together regarding their behavior.
This age group needs patient and understanding parents. They will test all limits.
Teens need to be told the long-term outcomes of bad behaviors.
Teens need to be involved with limit-setting, based on their maturity.