Saturday, April 13, 2013

Disciplining Young Kids

Question: How did you gauge what discipline was age-appropriate for your young preschool age children, and how did you discipline without damaging your relationship or your child's feeling of being valued?

Thoughts:

"The big key (which takes a great deal of self-mastery on the part of the parent) is to follow through consistently without getting angry."

"Teaching is often a better approach than discipline, especially discipline administered in anger or frustration."

"If we give praise more often than criticism, they often will change their approach....Often a misbehaving child has a low emotional bank account."

"The biggest mistake most parents make is 'nagging' the child.  It is best to just let the child make his choices and experience the consequences."

"Does the child in trouble get some kind of kudos for other things they are doing right? Sometimes bad attention is just as good to them as good attention, so try to sort that out for yourself."

"When they were very young when they misbehaved we let them know we were unhappy with them. We were consistent."

"I know that 'reasoning' is only effective with the first five words. After that it becomes 'blah blah blah'  The nagging and begging was ignored..."

"I did try to let them know that I did not hold a grudge after the discipline was over and we were beginning again, with a clean slate."

Answers:

Marsha and Richard
This is an important issue since as parents we reflect a child’s self-image, which can have lasting consequences either good or bad.  Children are so different.  Some take direction very well and are anxious to please while others struggle with being directed by others.

Our best approach was to try our best to structure positive and negative consequences that fit the situation.  The big key (which takes a great deal of self-mastery on the part of the parent) is to follow through consistently without getting angry.  For example, if a child doesn’t finish his work by a deadline, he is not free to play that day, or if he does not eat his meal he is not allowed to have a snack before the next meal.  The best response when they are hungry and want to eat is, no, when we don’t eat our meals, we don’t have snacks and stick to it.  The natural consequence is that the child is hungry.  This is just an example and may not be one you would want to use but again the key is to be pleasant so the child knows he/she has made that choice himself.

Young children are learning and need a lot of guidance. Teaching is often a better approach than discipline, especially discipline administered in anger or frustration.  Consequences are part of teaching.  Children can be trained and are capable of more than we usually expect but the Spirit will direct best when dealing with each different personality.

To preserve self-esteem we tried to use praise more than punishment.  We focused on what the children did well and overlooked minor indiscretions.  Children naturally want to please.  However, children also want our attention and they can often accomplish this best by negative behavior.  If we give praise more often than criticism, they often will change their approach. Often a misbehaving child has a low emotional bank account.  Spending special time and attention on him/her when discipline is not a factor sometimes helps to fill that emotional bank account.

Children must learn to be obedient but also feel loved and respected.  Again, making only rules that mattered and sticking to them, letting the natural consequences be the teacher best did that.  The biggest mistake most parents make is “nagging” the child.  It is best to just let the child make his choices and experience the consequences.  Sometimes that inconveniences the whole family but it is a good teacher.

Karen (and Lance)
If you worry a lot about how your child will feel while being disciplined then we think that sometimes that has to be considered, but don't let it interfere with the discipline. Think, if you have time, before you react. Can it be talked about or is it important to take action now. They need to know what is right and wrong. If the child is hurting another child maybe they can be taken to another room and be talked to, so that the other child will not have the "ha ha you got in trouble" look or attitude. So many times we had to say, "be soft" and to stop when they were mauling a baby, ready to hit someone with something, or whatever. Many times children don't understand what is appropriate at the time or that something they have or do will hurt someone else. Sometimes they are very "smart" to the situation and figure out how to get away with something. We didn't have a class or book telling us how to do these things, but we got a little softer on the younger children as they came along. Sometimes they are just jealous of the other child and want attention. Try to sort this out for yourself and see if the other child is getting more attention for something. Does the child in trouble get some kind of kudos for other things they are doing right. Sometimes bad attention is just as good to them as good attention, so try to sort that out for yourself. Our children were not perfect, but they grew up to be good people. Just don't be too soft on them or they will think the whole world is like that and they need to know the ups and downs to survive. Hope this helps a little.

Follow-up question:
I've noticed a lot of people get softer on their younger children than they were on the oldest couple of kids. Why do you think that is?

Answer:
"Things" they do don't matter as much as we mature. I remember some of them saying that they never got to do that. . . when one of the younger ones was "doing it" whatever it was.

Daniel and Barbara
Elder Ted Callister simplified our philosophy in raising our children. 1.  We entrusted them with responsibility.  2.  We had high expectations.  3.  We trained and supported them to meet  those expectations.

When they were very young when they misbehaved we let them know we were unhappy with them. We were consistent.  If they were noisy in church, we took them out and held them.  In church they had more freedom after the sacrement to draw or read, as long as they were quiet and not disturbing anyone.  They usually chose the freedom.  They knew their limits and their consequences.  We were lucky; they usually made the right decisions. 

I may have spanked each child maybe once, while young, but not more.  Some were not spanked.  The spank was one swat to the butt, not hard enough to hurt, but to show displeasure.
Our children seem to have more problems with their kids. "Time out" seems to work with them.

I remember one day I was disobedient.  Mom sat me on a stool in front of the clock on the stove.  I had to watch it for 15 minutes.  When the time was up, I was ready to go to bed.  I also remember her coming after me with a broom.  That was fun; she couldn't catch me.

Cynthia (and Brad)
This one is way too complicated for me. I came from the old school, where, if a child was naughty, they got a swat on the behind after one warning. Or they were in time out on their bed, and no getting off until mom said so. Of course the time was gauged by the age. I know that "reasoning" is only effective with the first five words. After that it becomes " blah blah blah"  The nagging anad begging was ignored, such as at the grocery check out candy counter. I prepared them ahead of time, telling them that we were not going to buy candy, etc. so don't ask. But I did try to let them know that I did not hold a grudge after the discipline was over and we were beginning again, with a clean slate.

Next week's question:
How did you help your kids learn to enjoy work? How did you schedule this training into busy family life?

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