As soon as your baby is born the precedent for future discipline are already being formed.
–What kind of a schedule do you expect him to have?
–What kinds of discipline techniques did your parents use when you were being raised?
–What kind of temperament does your baby have?
These and many other factors will affect the way you interact with your baby.
When thinking about discipline it is important to distinguish it from punishment. The definition of discipline is “to teach”. When you are disciplining your child, you are teaching him how he needs to behave in that particular situation. Punishment is to scold for already acting out a particular behavior.
When considering discipline and punishment the child’s age should always be taken into account. Expectations should be different for a two-year-old than for a four-year-old. A two-year-old would not be expected to sit still for a long period of time and a four-year-old may be able to.
Infants under 6 months:
–Cannot be “spoiled”. When babies this age cry they should be given the attention they need. This quick and reassuring response helps the child form a strong attachment with his caregiver.
–Are exploring the world around them. Some infants are able to move around by 6 months of age. If your child is getting into things that he shouldn’t, those items need to be secured or put out of reach. Infants this young do not realize danger.
–Need your respect. By respecting your child as an individual person from birth lays the foundation from which mutual respect is built.
Infants from 6 months to Walking Age:
–Need free room to explore. This is the age when your baby will start moving. It is a necessity that during this stage of development infants can touch almost everything they can reach. It is completely natural for them to explore everything they can see and can get to. When a child is told “NO” when he is doing something that is natural for him to do, it can eventually cause damage to his self-esteem.
–Need your encouragement. At this age is highly motivating for an infant if there is someone he loves on the floor playing with him. Make sure your child has “tummy time” at this age. Infants who sleep on their back or side often develop crawling later than normal.
Toddlers. Age 1 to 2:
–Need lots of room to explore. This is the year of exploration. Your child will get into EVERYTHING. Child-proofing is a must now, and constant supervision must always be given.
–Need to be told what TO DO instead of what not to do. Positive words are the key here. When your child gets into something he should not, gently say that that is not a good choice and remove him from the activity or object. REDIRECT him to an appropriate activity or toy.
Preschoolers. 2 years and up:
–Need consistency. Rules and consequences need to be the same all the time. If the child knows what to expect he is more likely to behave appropriately.
Some discipline techniques include:
–Modeling. Actions speak louder than words. Show your child how to behave. He will always look to you to know how to behave in any situation.
–Positive Reinforcement. When your child does something Great, tell him. If you are having a problem with a particular behavior, try ignoring it and reinforce the desired behavior.
–Redirection. When your child gets into or does something he shouldn’t redirect his attention to another toy or activity. Don’t make a big production of the offense because the attention will reinforce the bad behavior.
–Appropriate consequences. make sure that when you are giving consequences for poor behavior that the consequence matches the offense. If the consequences are appropriate they are more likely to be more effective.
–Have patience. Remember that children learn by doing things and trying new things out. Sometimes it takes more than one time to learn the rules. Children under 2 cannot keep themselves from touching and getting into everything. It’s Mother Nature to blame not the child.
To Spank or Not to Spank
Spanking continues to be a hot debate for parents and child development experts. However, studies have shown that physical punishment, such as spanking, creates shame and doubt in children instead of autonomy and self-confidence. A young child does not understand the connection between what he did (run into the street) and the response (a spank on the bottom). Spanking and slapping do not ‘teach’ the child how to behave in any situation. It only punishes the undesired behavior. Slapping and spanking teaches the child that adults get their way by using physical force. This learning may lead to increased physical aggressiveness and abusive relationships later in life. Too many parents have had the unsettling experience of reaching for their child in love and having that child cringe away in fear, as if a slap or spanking is on the way. This is certainly not the sort of relationship that fosters trust and closeness, and certainly not what most parents would choose.
All children are different and the suggested techniques are not right for all children. Seek out all kinds of resources when deciding how best to raise your child.