Should discipline start early?

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Can early discipline be a good thing for your children? Find out here, including information on how to prevent a tantrum...

Your little one is born with no preconceived knowledge or understanding of rules or discipline.

For them, there are no rules to bend, fewer to breach and a quite a lot of them to disregard, since societal norms don’t play a factor into their tiny lives till they are much older.

So naturally parents, particularly, first-timers, wonder when should they begin to step in and start that thorny journey of instilling what is right and good for their youngster.

Starting young

For most babies, the word ‘no’ carries a lot of weight. It’s short and sweet. Said in the right tone, the word ‘no’ could very well function as your baby’s first brush with discipline.

When a baby is very young, it’s pointless trying to implement complex disciplinary measures. Instead, when he is trying to do something you don’t approve of, like poke his finger in a plug-point, simply say “No” and switch his attention to something more positive and not so dangerous.

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Start gentle discipline when your child is young

This will have a gentle but direct impact on their learning.

Don’t get caught up in the moment and rant or shout. It won’t have much effect on a little person who can barely utter a word. The best thing is to gently reinforce that their action be switched to a positive experience.

Remember, always stay calm and move on.

Be gentle but firm

When setting up boundaries and disciplinary measures for babies and toddlers, it’s best to stick with just a little bit of structure. A little structure that is enforced gradually will enable them to understand quickly what is wrong and what is acceptable.

Failing to give them a gentle push as to what is right and what is not could leave you trying to manage an unruly child in the future,  and with your discipline strategy in a spin.

You family and friends may try to advice you on when you should start disciplining your baby,  but the decision is yours and yours alone.

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Try not to let your family and friends influence how you decide to discipline your child

But do remember, it’s never too early to start gentle discipline because your child is more than likely to realize and learn early what is acceptable.

For example, when your baby starts crawling/ walking, their natural curiosity will have them trying to touch your beautiful vase, or explore the balcony.

Rather than shouting at your baby when he attempts this, place that vase in a spot your baby cannot reach, and block the entrance to the balcony. This is a gentle way of showing him where not to go and what not to touch. 

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Find out how to prevent a full-blown tantrum

Preventing with tantrums

Between their 1st and 2nd years (and beyond!) most kids would have thrown at least one tantrum. It can be very overwhelming for especially a first-time parent to deal with a full-blown tantrum, especially if it is in a public place.

If you’d like to know how to avoid bringing on a tantrum in the first place, here are some useful tips to keep in mind:

– Affirm and redirect: It’s almost bed-time when you hear a little voice demand “Park”! Without saying “not right now” and setting off a tantrum, affirm what your child is saying while at the same time steering her away from it.

For example, you could say, “You like going to the park, don’t you? Remember how you played with that little boy this afternoon?” It’s still about the park this way, but you should be able to steer the conversation in a different direction and prevent that tantrum.

– Bring on the toys: If you sense an impending tantrum when it’s time for your 2-year-old’s bath, suggest he take Bob the Builder (or any other water-proof toy!) with him. This should make bath-time fun for the little one, and help you stop that bath-time tantrum.

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Be firm but gentle when dealing with your toddler’s discipline issues.

– Be matter-of-fact: Sometimes, just stating the rule clearly works. Make sure you use a calm but firm voice to state your rules: No books in the bath tub, no shoes in bed, we don’t play with Mummy’s jewelry, etc.

– Look ahead: If you know that leaving the playground is going to cause your 2-year-old to have a meltdown, look for opportunities that you can use as an escape route.

So when it’s close to the time you need to leave and you see someone walking their dog, try telling your little one, “Let’s go see if we can say hi to the doggy over there.” You should be able to leave the playground with minimum fuss this way.

We hope this article has been useful to you. Do share your tips on disciplining your young child with us by leaving a comment.

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