As children grow, there are phases that make our hearts melt and some we'd rather forget. Still, temper tantrums and poor behavior are part of growing up. Here are some tools to help with the not-so-sweet moments.
Good discipline is age appropriate.
Age 0 – 2: Eliminate temptation. Keep items such as electronics, wires, jewelry, cleaning supplies and medications out of reach. Remember: out of sight, out of mind.
Age 3 – 5: Children begin to understand the link between actions and consequences. Explain family rules in words they understand, and tell them what will happen when rules are followed and when they're not. Behavior charts (see below) are helpful.
Age 6 – 8: Kids will test rules and expectations. Rebelling is part of learning and growing, but consistency and follow-through are crucial to maintain order and their safety.
Age 9 – 12: More independence means learning to deal with behavior by having "real world" consequences. If something gets ruined, turn it into a teaching moment and have the child help repair it or pay for it out of their allowance or extra chores.
Age 13 and up: Teens still need limits, but since they're able to reason more maturely, sit down with them and discuss things like curfew and rules on dating. Make rules together that you both agree on, and be sure to keep it simple so there is no room for confusion. Home by 10 p.m. That's that.
Behavior charts can illustrate tough concepts.
A "choice chart" can be used to break a specific bad habit or reinforce a good habit. If a child hits or yells when he or she is angry, list at the top "When I'm angry, I can choose ..." Then with pictures or words, list their options: take a deep breath, hit, yell, go chill out in my room, etc.
Then list what making a good choice gets. "Good choice = sticker. Five stickers = 10 minutes on iPad," and make room for five stickers on the chart. When your child starts to exhibit the bad habit, point to or pull out their choice chart. This reminds kids that good choices can be made in all situations and gives them control when they might otherwise feel powerless.
D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E is a good acronym to remember.
D - Distract the child
I - Ignore misbehavior
S - Structure the environment
C - Control the behavior
I - Involve the child
P - Plan time for loving
L - Let go
I - Increase consistency
N - Notice positive behavior
E - Excuse the child with a time-out "In the Sproutlight" is a sponsored opportunity. For more information on sponsorship, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 636-828-4246.