No parent likes to punish their child; however, sometimes correcting their bad behavior is necessary. Many parents wonder if they’re being too harsh, not harsh enough, or simply taking the wrong approach when it comes to children and discipline. There is nothing wrong with being confused as it is a normal process whether you’re a first time parent or a parent of five. It is important to keep in mind that discipline is very necessary in order to keep your child on the straight and narrow.
The Sooner the Better
No one is suggesting that you go home and slap your newborn on the hand because they threw up on your shirt! Obviously at this age they do not necessarily understand what is going on or what is right and what is wrong. However, discipline should be a part of a child’s life the moment they are mobile and able to get into trouble. There are age appropriate methods that will help you in correcting your child through every stage of their life.
10 months to 2 years
At this point they are just curious about the world around them. Being too strickt in your discipline methods at this age could be received wrong by your child. During these stages you want to just stick to simple yet stern correction methods. For instance if your one year old touches the hot stove you don’t want to hit him or yell. Instead, with a stern voice you say, “NO”. They will begin to understand what you’re referring to.
3 years to 5 years
During this time you should begin explaining to your toddler what it is you expect from them. Jotting down very simple rules such as no htting, no running, and things of that nature sets the groundwork. As they break the rules, a warning should be presented first and then time out might be necessary for the child to understand completely.
6 years to 12 years
At this point time outs might seem like nothing more than a few minutes alone in the child’s mind. They are past the point of not knowing right from wrong and thus your rules and consequences should come into place. Set rules, post them in a central place, and enforce the consequences the first time the rules are not followed.
12 years and older
The terrible teen years can really throw you for a loop. You’ve finally got your child to listen to you and now suddenly it seems like they’ve been replaced with an evil twin. Teens are going to push the envelope and test their boundaries because they’re discovering who they are as individuals. This is the time you want to take from them what they value most. When they’re not behaving in school, you need to take away something. This could mean no cell phone for a few weeks, no outside time on the weekends, or whatever you see fit.
Again, disciplining your child is never easy, but the longer you wait to start laying out the groundwork, the more difficult it will become to correct them in the future.