Thursday, July 26, 2007

Disciplining Preschoolers


  • In the Bible in Proverbs13:24 it says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”
  • We often interpret this verse as spanking, but in reality, the rod was a tool used by shepherds in Biblical times to direct the sheep in the way they should go. It was not a tool for punishment.
  • Discipline is a word that has two meaning. One of the meanings is punishment and the other is to teach. The ideal discipline program for a child is one that teaches what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not acceptable.
Effective Discipline
  • Helps children learn to control their behavior so that they act according to their ideas of right and wrong, not because they fear punishment.
  • For example…they are honest because they think it is wrong to be dishonest, not because they are afraid to get caught.
  • This is our goal for our children…they don’t start out here.
  • We have to be the ones who teach them right and wrong, and hold them accountable until they develop their own sense of right and wrong.
  • Our job as a parent is to work ourselves out of a job.
Before we can figure out discipline techniques we have to understanding the preschoolers we will be disciplining!
  • Preschool children are busy learning about the world around them
  • They ask lots of questions
  • They love to imitate adults
  • They are learning to share and take turns
  • They like to try new things and often take risks
  • They may try to shock you at times by using “forbidden” words
  • Getting attention is fun for a preschooler, being ignored is not
  • Preschoolers like to make decisions for themselves
  • They have lots of energy
  • The psychological stage of a preschooler is autonomy vs. shame and doubt. They are figuring out that they are their own little selves and that they can say NO and MINE!
  • They can get carried away by their “power” and get bossy.
Ideas for Parents
  • There is no one right way to discipline
  • But there are things we can do to assure that our children grow up learning the difference between right and wrong!
  • Set a good example!
  • Preschoolers love to imitate adults!
  • Watch your habits because your kids will be sure to copy them!
  • If you want them to treat each other kindly, you have to demonstrate it
  • Good eating habits, how much you watch TV, the language you use will all be caught rather than taught!
  • Praising children encourages learning, independence, and strong self-esteem in children.
  • Say things like, “You did a great job putting your clothes away,” or “This painting has beautiful colors!”
  • Watch your language and focus on what to do rather than what not to do!
  • Try saying:
  • Slow down and walk instead of Stop running
  • Come hold my hand instead of Don’t touch anything
  • Keep your feet on the floor instead of Don’t climb on the couch
  • Use your quiet voice inside instead of Stop screaming and shouting
Natural or Logical Consequences
Help children understand the connection between their actions and the results of their misbehavior
  • Natural consequences are results that would naturally happen after a child’s behavior without any adult interference.
  • We don’t allow natural consequences to happen if they would be dangerous or impractical. (letting a child run into the street and get hit by a car.)
  • Logical Consequences require adult intervention
  • A child who runs into the street has to play inside
  • A child who throws his food across the room because he doesn’t like the snack offered goes without a snack.
  • Distraction and Redirection
    • Sometimes when a child is doing something that you don’t want them to do you can distract them with something else or redirect them to something else.
    • Try to ignore the behavior if the child isn't doing something that is harmful (or if it isn't something that you directly told them not to do).
    • Withhold all attention and praise or support.
    • This works when the child is trying to get attention by screaming or saying bad words.
    • Sometimes you can tell the child that you can go into the other room and scream if you would like to, but not here.
    Remember it is more effective to reward good behavior than to punish bad behavior.
  • Positively rewarded behavior is usually repeated
  • Be careful not to give too many rewards
  • Does Spanking Work?
    Preschoolers often respond well to physical action when you need to discipline them.
  • Touching them on the arm, taking them by the hand, picking them up, holding or restraining them are all good ways to get their attention.
  • Spanking will also get their attention, but it doesn’t do a very good job of teaching children how to behave.
  • In fact, it generally distresses a child so much that he or she can’t pay attention to your explanations and directions.
  • It’s hard to reason with a screaming, crying child.
  • Sometimes spanking is OK…in extreme circumstances.
  • Usually when a parent spanks a child the first swat is for the misbehavior and almost every subsequent swat is the parent taking out his or her anger and frustration.
  • Spanking may put an immediate end to the behavior, but it is teaching the child that physical aggression is the way to resolve a problem.
  • They learn to obey out of fear.
  • Time Outs
    Time outs can be used in situations that are out of control.
  • Putting a child in a quiet room or a special chair until they can calm down helps the child regain composure, and gives the parent time to think through discipline
  • Let your child know what specific behaviors will earn a time out
  • Pick the area of the time out (not the kids bedroom if they have every convenience know to modern man in their room!)
  • Limit time outs to 1 minute per year of age
  • Ignore the child’s pleas or actions when they are in time out
  • Do not reassure the child that “time is almost up”
  • When time out is up, invite your child to leave the time out area and resume normal activities
  • Taking care of yourself
    Parenting preschoolers is challenging and works better when you remember to take care of yourself.
  • Rest, eat well, and relax
  • Above all, try to maintain your sense of humor
  • When you discover you child doing something like pouring the Crisco oil all over themselves in the kitchen, grab a camera and take a picture!!
  • I wish I had…you will want to remember this and tell your grandchildren!!
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