One of the most challenging parts of parenting can be disciplining our children. There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to instilling positive and appropriate behavior with our little ones. What works for one preschooler may not work for another. Sometimes, what worked last week may not work this week! Children’s behavior during the preschool years can be difficult for all parents to understand and manage. This is where the concept of ”Positive Discipline” for preschoolers comes in.
The preschool years are a stage during which kids are beginning to exercise their independence. They are beginning to experiment with various behaviors on their quest for autonomy. Because they’re experimenting, they tend to push boundaries and may even show defiance. So, why is it so important for parents to utilize positive discipline?
Positive discipline focuses on highlighting the positive aspects of a child’s behavior instead focusing solely on the misbehavior. It’s about reinforcing good behaviors while addressing and eliminating negative ones. It’s also about teaching young kids how to be more self-aware and ultimately more responsible for their own actions.
How can we practice positive discipline for our preschoolers? Here’s a list of tips you might find handy.
Set a positive example
Teaching young kids about appropriate and positive behavior starts at home.. Children observe the words and actions of their parents and other adults in their lives. One of the most effective ways to instill discipline in your children is by being a good role model.
Your little one learns from your behavior. Make sure your actions and words reflect that which you want your child to emulate. If you want to instill qualities like kindness and compassion in your child, make sure he or she sees you exhibit the same traits. If you want your child to learn about the importance of healthy eating, then you need to model healthy eating habits as well.
Focus on the root cause of behavior
We are often tempted to scold our kids when they do something wrong. But before we give a consequence for misbehavior, it’s important to find out the cause or reason behind the behavior first.
For example, determine if your child intentionally spilled water on the floor, or was it an accident? Ask why your child threw his or her toy at the wall. Was it because your little one didn’t get his or her way and had a tantrum, or was it because something else triggered these actions? Is your child’s behavior a way of trying to get your attention, even though it was done in an unhealthy way?
Children will only continue to exhibit the same behaviors if the root cause isn’t properly addressed. Be sure to find out and address the cause of the wrong behavior. Find solutions instead of just punishing your child for his or her actions.
Instead of saying “no”, redirect behavior
From time to time, young kids will do some things we don’t want them to do. Every now and then they will push boundaries, try to exert independence, and test their limits and even your patience. More often than not, you may find yourself saying things like, “No, you can’t have sweets right now,” or, “ You can’t touch that!” or, “No, don’t do that!”
When we resort to “no”, it tends to make your child feel that he or she is being controlled and commanded instead of capable, which doesn’t help to shape positive or desired behaviors. So, instead of saying “no” all the time, try to redirect your child instead. Show little ones what they’re capable of instead of only the things they can’t do.
For example, if your child wants to keep playing outside when it’s about to rain, you may say that he or she can wait until the rain ends, instead of just saying “no”. If your little one wants to have ice cream less than an hour before dinnertime, you can tell him or her that ice cream is ok to eat after finishing dinner, not before.
Many parents’ initial response to our child’s misbehavior is anger or screaming. Instead of this knee-jerk reaction, have you ever tried empathizing with your child? Have you tried meeting your child’s negative behavior with empathy and kindness? Rather than giving a lecture, consider approaching the incident with a sense of calm, and provide a consequence later.
Remind children they are loved
Your child may misbehave, but that shouldn’t make him or her think twice about your love. Negative behaviors do not define the kind of person your child is. Continue showing your child affection, don’t withhold your love. Incorporate a caring and loving approach along with instilling discipline. This may not change things instantly like the flip of a switch, but it can produce lasting results.
Disciplining children is no easy task for any parent. If you’ve been feeling like none of your strategies are working with your child,try to change things up a bit and try a different approach. Use these tips to help you practice positive discipline for your preschooler.
For more parenting tips and resources, please visit Cornerstone Learning Center.