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Positive Discipline: A Guide For Parents

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Hardly anything is of more concern to parents than the challenges of disciplining a small child. We all want our children to be well behaved, but making this happen without squelching a child's creativity or diminishing his sense of himself is difficult. I've found that discipline is one area of parenting where lots of "ghosts from the nursery" show up and cause trouble. This phrase, coined by well-known child development expert Selma Fraiberg, refers to the childhood memories, past experiences, and established patterns of thinking and behaving we all bring to the job of parenting. These ghosts can make parenting even more complicated, because sometimes we say one thing but are really feeling and thinking something else underneath.

Teaching and Learning

"Discipline" comes from a root word that means "to teach," not to punish. Teaching children the proper way to behave, how to stay in control of themselves, and how to show respect for others should be our goal. I've found that if parents clearly plan what they want to teach and keep in mind what their child can learn based on his stage of development, then the specific strategies are easier to work out. From the kids' point of view, the simpler the message being taught and the closer the link between the action and the consequence, the easier it is to learn what's expected.


 
 
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If we haven't gotten around to it yet, now is the time to talk with our partner about discipline. Our kids need consistency from us, so it's good to agree on some strategies. Get some tips on developing a common approach to discipline.
Read Talking About Discipline
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Now that your toddler is becoming a preschooler, you may want to try some different approaches to discipline. Catching your child being good, for instance, is a simple, powerful tool for changing behavior. Get more suggestions.
Read Discipline Beyond Time-Out