As a parent it is always difficult to teach your child how to behave – as well as how not to behave. This is where the fundamentals of discipline come in. Discipline, if applied correctly, can guide a child towards appropriate social behaviour.
All discipline strategies work better when you have a warm and loving relationship with your child. An important concept to bear in mind is that – discipline without a good relationship breeds rebellion.
In other words we must make sure that we have spent sufficient time engaging in relationship building with our kids if we want our discipline to be effective.
Sometimes our child’s behaviour is not bad behaviour, but a need for connection. Problems arise when we mistake our child’s need for connection and believe that they need to be disciplined. Instead they may just need more bonding time with their parents.
How to avoid tantrums
If you have a toddler, it is always best to anticipate the behaviour before it gets to a full blown tantrum.
Look for tantrum triggers. Do the tantrums always arise in the car after play school or perhaps when they are tired or hungry?
A dip in their blood sugar levels will make them crankier then normal. So perhaps have a snack available. It also may not be the best time to take them shopping. So plan your schedule around these times.
Remember that you are training them to know which behaviours are acceptable and which are not. Toddlers aren’t born with the emotional capacity to fully control their feelings and actions.
A few tips for tantrums
Don’t talk or negotiate with a screaming toddler. If they throw a tantrum at home leave them to get on with it. As long as they are safe and can’t harm themselves.
If you are at the shop, then it may be best to leave your stuff and take them home. In both cases, don’t try and reason with them or apply logic. The executive function of their brain has shut down, so they cannot reason.
A child only really begins to use logic when they are 6 or 7. So instead of explanations and reasoning, you can try using what experts call “Connecting words”.
Instead of shouting at your child, rather identify their exact emotions. For example, ask them why they are upset, sad or angry? Try to get them to calm down and respond to you.
By applying these simple discipline techniques, your child’s behaviour will more than likely improve.
By Dr Steve Buys
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