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Expert Tips on Disciplining Your Child (By Age)

Discipline for kids is a topic of concern to many parents. Many caring and kind parents don’t feel good when it comes to disciplining their kids. But let’s face it. We must teach our kids how to behave, and that includes disciplining them when they misbehave.

But, you have to be careful when disciplining your kids so that your way of teaching them helps them and not affect them negatively or scars them emotionally.

I assume you already know that yelling to your kid is bad. Harsh punishments are also bad. If you’re using these ways to discipline your kids, you’re teaching your children to be aggressive when faced with challenging situations.

Some parents discipline their children with isolation. This is not good as well as it makes kids feel like they are on their own, without help, warmth, and guidance from their parents. Disciplining your kids this way is not effective and might even make them misbehave more. 

Kids’ behavior changes as they age. A kid who doesn’t throw tantrums at two may sass you at eight and have a major attitude towards you at 12. Experts suggest that the easiest way to understand your kids’ behavior is to evaluate the changes they are experiencing as they develop.

This way, you’ll be able to take recommended disciplinary measure without resorting to threats or yelling. Discipline for kids is about teaching and guiding and not about anger and punishment.

This article contains age to age discipline tips for parents that will help you keep your children on track at every stage of their life. We intentionally excluded the teenage years, because that’s a topic that deserves its own separate article.

Discipline for Toddler (12 to 36 Months)

Your little child isn’t having tantrums or whining to manipulate you. Remember, this is their way of expressing their emotions. That is why when your child is happy, they’ll play and smile, but when upset, they cry a lot.

Here’s how you can discipline your toddler:

Remain Cool

Toddlers like attention, whether negative or positive. So if you react when they dump their food or when they misbehave at the supermarket, they’re likely to do it again.

Instead, calmly let your kid know that it isn’t right to pour food on the floor or cry when you can’t get them another chocolate. Keep it short and straightforward to avoid confusing them.

Take a Time Out

If your child is about two, asking them to take a time out can be an excellent tool for disciplining them. If your child angrily knocks other kids over the head, take her to a time-out area so she can calm down and get control of herself. Explain to her calmly that what she’s done is wrong.

Discipline Preschoolers (2 to 5 Years)

Preschoolers can understand and follow instructions. At this age, your child is figuring out some social skills such as basics of manners, sharing, and getting along with friends. They’re always learning a lot from their surroundings, and as they are exposed to more things, the more they can mess.

Here are some tips you can try with preschoolers:

Avoid Asking More Than Once

Sounds ridiculous! But it works.

Ask your kid once nicely. For example, “please stop playing with my phone”. If your kid doesn’t obey, you can request a second time, but this time warn them of negative consequences if they don’t listen.  But of course, avoid making unrealistic threats.

If your child fails to do as you asked, put your threats into action so you don’t end up losing credibility.

Notice Their Good

Preschoolers usually want to please their parents, so be sure to encourage them when they behave well. Don’t just pay attention to bad behaviors, while paying very little attention to good behaviors. Notice their good gestures and praise them when you can.

Be a Role Model

Kids learn more from what they see as opposed to what we tell them. If you always shout when you are upset, expect your kids to do the same at some point. Lead by example and display the behavior you want to see in your child.

Discipline for School-Age Children (6 to 12 Years)

teaching child
Image credits: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Most school-age children are aware of what is expected of them when in various places – for instance, home, school, or library. But you should remind them of the limits from time to time and reward them when they behave well. Here are a couple of tips to discipline school-age children.

Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations is necessary. For instance, if you want your child to do a certain chore, you should make it a point to explain what you want done and when you want it in a friendly yet assertive way. 

When setting limits, be precise and decisive. Something like, “You cannot watch that TV show, it’s only for adults.” is a good example. 

Avoid Being Too Emotional When Explaining What They Did Wrong

Being too emotional when discipling them can steer the conversation towards something else and dilute the actual problem. It’s important to remain calm and explain how they made a mistake in the most precise way possible. 

While you don’t want to be robotic you also don’t want to be too emotional.

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