With so many conflicting advice about dealing with children, parents and caregivers are often bewildered by knowing whether what they are doing is right or wrong. The best policy to adopt for grooming children is to correct them when they are wrong and encourage them when they are good.
The ultimate goal of disciplining children is to teach them good values and behavior to help them monitor themselves with the right choices. Parents who help their children develop skills of controlling themselves will raise kids with self worth. Helping the kids to make proper choices is a slow learning process and will have to be done with great care and patience. It can start with simple lessons. For instance, a preschool kid can be asked questions like ‘ Would you like carrot or beans for dinner? or Do you want to brush your teeth or get into your pajamas?’ Taking simple decisions can train them to make more difficult choices as they grow up.
Communicating with children requires special skills. Using vocabulary that they are familiar with, and doing that slowly with appropriate body language attracts them. Parents should use words that children use themselves. While speaking to them, bending down and physically coming down to their level while looking into their eyes makes them more attentive and helps parents observe how much of what they are saying has been understood. Parents must use a calm tone to communicate effectively. When they raise their voices and yell, the only fact that registers in the child’s head is that the parent is yelling at them and not what they are saying. So the tone must be calm and controlled throughout.
Setting an example
Children are great observers and imbibe values and behavior from their immediate family, their parents or caregivers. The values of love, good behavior and discipline have to be practiced by the parents themselves first. Children absorb their actions and behavior like blotting paper and go about imitating them. For example, if a child is expected to be polite, the parents must make a conscious effort to be polite themselves. The children imitate not only their actions but also their language. So the parents have to be careful in their language and behavior when the kids are around.
Using positives for good behavior
Sticker charts and rewards are unimaginably positive tools for curbing indiscipline and bad behavior. Children need tangible ways to monitor their behavior. Stars can be used for encouraging every good deed, but rewards need not be given too freely. Rewards need not be monetary either. An extra hour of a favorite TV program or free time can make them ecstatic. A chance to choose an outing or to select a book to read aloud, or an outing with the parent alone can be powerful positive motivators for good behavior.
Ignoring tantrums and allowing the child to quieten down is the best way to handle a child’s tantrum. There is no need to give in to the child or punish harshly. Rather, he/she has to be made to understand that it is not correct to throw tantrums. Once the child settles down, talking calmly and making the child understand that it was the actions that were unacceptable and not the reasons for throwing tantrums. Explain that it was anger that drove the child to bad behavior and help the child to curb it. Explaining what kind of behavior you expect, for example, when going to the store and what is in treat for the child, keeps them off violent fits of anger. Parents also need to put themselves in the child’s shoes and understand how boring and tiring endless shopping or social visits could be.