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22nd May 2018

Health Visitor's Blog Children and Discipline

Children and Discipline
The word “discipline” can often be seen as quite a harsh word, especially when you associate it with your children. One reason for this can often be because we as parents are guilty of confusing ‘discipline’ with ‘punishment’. Thus, many parents don’t want to discipline their children for fear of appearing like the villain or the ‘bad parent’ in their child’s eyes.
The truth is though, children need discipline. Discipline is important for children as it makes them feel secure as they will get to know their boundaries. Instead of seeing discipline as a negative course of action, see it as a positive way of teaching your child self-control as opposed to a way of controlling your child.
Discipline and the Home
More often than not, discipline will start in the home in the form of house rules or boundaries that parents set. Such rules or boundaries could include table manners or cleaning up toys or responding to tantrums or aggressive behaviour. Giving your young child clear boundaries is a positive way of teaching your child what is acceptable and this will help him throughout his childhood and through to adulthood.
When it comes to disciplining your child, there are some things to take into account that may help:
* Make his routine consistent. As well as creating boundaries for your child, routine is a key component of making a child feel secure . Children like to know what is coming next and if they know that they need to be doing something at a particular time, they are less likely to rebel against it.
* Please don’t use physical discipline like smacking. I know some parents see it is a ‘short, sharp, shock’ but actually what happens in many cases is that children start to become immune to those little smacks and it teaches them that physical aggression is ok. Also, you’re not trying to teach your child that they are bad, you’re wanting to teach them what is acceptable.
*Remove temptation! If you’ve told your child to not touch the chocolate in the kitchen, don’t leave it out on the side in full view. Young children have very little self control so you don’t want to be deliberately setting them booby traps!
*Consistency is key! If you say to your child that there is a consequence for bad behaviour then you need to follow through with that consequence. If you keep giving them more chances, you risk looking like a soft touch and there will be no incentive for the child to act within their boundaries.
Consistency at Nursery
As I mentioned before, consistency is key and this is especially important in the nursery setting. It is confusing to the child if they are doing one thing at home and something entirely different at the nursery. At many nurseries, if a child is behaving in a manner which is deemed as unacceptable, for example he or she may be hitting another child, the nursery staff will approach this often by taking the child away from the situation and explaining to them that this behaviour is unacceptable. They may use words such a ‘kind’ or ‘gentle’ hands to discourage the child from continuing with this behaviour. They may also use a distraction technique for other behaviours. It could be useful to have a conversation with the staff at the nursery to see how they are handling any specific behaviours so the same can be done at home.