If you feel your approach to discipline isn’t working as well as you’d like, why not try a new one? Remember though, you have to be fair, consistent and caring as you can and don’t feel guilty when you’re not quite the perfect parent you’d like to be.
This is your first line of defense. It involves steering clear of situations you know will wind your child up. There’s no point fighting over trivialities and going for a head-on collision when you know you’re on a losing wicket.
If your child is consistently difficult in the supermarket, think of ways of leaving her at home. If you know she hates that woolly bobble hat, why make him wear it? Save yourself trouble by avoiding things you know you’ll never change.
The theory behind this approach is that you ‘reward’ your child when she’s behaving well and ignore her when she’s behaving badly.
If you think this sounds too soft, imagine how you feel when you’re ignored. It’s not a pleasant feeling and your child will dislike the sensation that she no longer has your approval and attention.
You can combine ‘soft’ rewards (praise, smiles, touch, attention) with more tangible ‘hard’ rewards such as a little treat for especially good behavior. It works best if the good behavior is rewarded quickly.
Remember, too, that there’s a subtle difference between reward and bribery. A reward is given when there’s no talk of what will happen until after the bout of good behavior, and it comes as a bonus. Bribery is when you promise your child something if she behaves well or performs a certain task-use it sparingly!
Even young children understand that we sometimes have to negotiate for what we want. Perhaps your child doesn’t want to go out to friends with you – she’d rather stay and watch her cartoons.
Instead of switching off the TV and heading for confrontation, why not suggest that if she comes along you’ll video the rest of it for her? Ask her how she thinks you could sort out a certain problem together. But don’t promise something you know you can’t or don’t want to do.
There are times when no matter how hard you try to stay calm, your child pushes you beyond reason. Before you resort to smacking, try ‘time out.’ Warn her that unless she stops, she’ll have to go somewhere else away from other people. Often the threat and the tone of your voice will be enough. If not, carry out your threat straightaway.
Her bedroom is the obvious place to cool off – but don’t send her there every other day or she’ll feel it’s a bad place. One mum used the stairs as her ‘time out’ place and it worked – there’s nowhere more boring! Time out applies to parents as well as children.
When you feel the pressure rising, ask a friend or relative to have your child for a few hours so you can escape, from responsibilities. The break will do both you and your child good!