Limits have to be set, even in the most loving, listening relationships. Part of being a parent is creating boundaries. Remember that it is natural and normal for children to test these boundaries. This is not naughty; it is part of the learning process. Children feel more secure if you stick to the limits you have set, provided they are reasonable, even if they complain.
Expect them to behave well and encourage all their efforts. Praise the good behaviour and try to ignore the bad. The more you nag, the less your child will listen.
And imagining how your child feels is the key to understanding behaviour. Remember how it felt when you were a child and how confusing the adult world seemed when you felt unfairly treated.
Laughter can help defuse an angry situation. Sometimes parents get so serious that the fun goes out of parenting. See the funny side and allow yourself to laugh whenever possible.
Listen carefully to what your child is telling you. Take an interest in what they are doing and feeling. Reassure them that strong feelings are fine – if they are expressed in the right way. The more you do this, the less you will need to discipline at all.
Involve them in decisions, especially if something affects them; listen to their point of view. If you are tempted to say something hurtful, think how it would sound if you said it to an adult. Apologise if you sometimes get things wrong.
Small children feel more secure and conflict can be avoided if there is clear pattern to their day. They feel happier with regular mealtimes, bed times, or times for noisy play.
But try to be flexible with very small children. Once you decide on your family rules, be consistent. It can be very confusing for children if you enforce a rule one day, then let it go the next. Sometimes you need different rules outside the home which must be explained to children.
If it all feels too much like hard work, and your patience is not up to it, take some time out for yourself. Do something that makes you feel good. If you ever feel you are losing control or may start shouting, putting your child down or smacking, walk away, calm down and count to ten.
10 Steps to
Love is the most important need for all children. It is also an important part of positive discipline. The more you show love to your child, by giving them hugs and kisses, by saying “I love you”, the more they will want to prove they deserve it. Love builds a child’s confidence and self-esteem.