Instilling self-control by establishing and sticking with rules is the name of the game when it comes to reigning in misbehaving toddlers and preschoolers. Self-control — something many adults could brush up on — is a person’s ability to resist strong feelings and temptations because he’s developed the discipline to do so. Little ones learn self-control through parental guidance and peer interactions. As is the case with most everything in life, discipline can be both positive and negative.
Encourages Appropriate Behavior
Giving your toddler or preschooler a choice in a trying set of circumstances may not sound particularly disciplinarian, but it can teach your little one about compromise and that life won’t always go his way. For example, when your tyke doesn’t want to share his truck on a play date, let him know that he can either let his friend play with the toy for a time or he can put it away. If your tot is being particularly stubborn and sticks his nose up at both options, a brief time out may be in order. About one minute for each year of age is generally considered appropriate.
Provides A Sense Of Security
Your toddler or preschooler may feel at a loss without discipline in her life. Children feel more secure when there’s no guesswork involved regarding household rules or in trying to figure out what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable, explain Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D., and Anita Gurian, Ph.D., with Education.com. Discipline helps your little one learn that misbehaving isn’t in her best interest. Note that the words discipline and punishment are not interchangeable. Discipline means training to ensure proper behavior, while punishment is a penalty for doing something wrong.
Confusing When Inconsistent
Inconsistent rules make it next to impossible for your little one to become properly disciplined. If you take a toy away every single time your tot throws it, it won’t take long for him to get the message that throwing his toy is a bad idea. Halfhearted attempts at discipline can be a waste of time and energy. If you take away his toy only when you’re in a bad mood or ignore the situation when you’ve had a tough day and don’t feel like dealing with it, you make it hard for your toy-throwing tyke to knock it off. When you say “no coloring on the wall” the first time your tot displays his artwork on the sheetrock, you must also say “no coloring on the wall” the second, third, fourth and fifth time he does it, until he understands his drawings belong on paper.
Even though many adults were spanked as kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against it — especially when it comes to babies and toddlers. Little kids are mentally unequipped to connect the dots between their “wrong” actions and being hit or swatted. The only thing they’ll know for sure is that spanking hurts. When you physically punish your child, you run the risk of losing your temper and carrying matters further than intended.