Six Essential Principles of Behavior Management
Managing the behavior of your young child is one of the most daunting tasks of parenthood. The following principles may not make things any easier, but they should make your efforts more effective.
1. Keep Your Emotions in Check. Try not to discipline your child when you are angry and want to “punish” him. Discipline should be thought of as an educational process in which you want to “teach” him about the consequences of his behavior.
2. Present a United Front. Parents should discuss values they want to teach and strategies they want to employ, then both should follow through. If one parent is “strict” and the other “easy,” the child will soon learn to play one against the other.
3. Be Consistent. Young children will not easily understand complexities, subtleties, exceptions, etc. If you indulge a particular behavior one day then punish it the next, the child will become confused. He also will continually test you to see if you will be tough or lax each time.
4. Don’t Give in to Crying and Tantrums. It may be very difficult to see your child wailing and writhing in anger or disappointment, but it is critical to be patient and firm. If you give in, the child will learn that if he pushes hard enough and long enough he will eventually get his way.
5. Teach Your Child to Apologize and Accept His Apology. Let your child know it is important for him to let others know he is sorry they were hurt by his words or actions. Then reassure him that although his words or actions were unacceptable, he is still loved.
6. Apologize for Your Mistakes. Don’t be afraid to apologize to your child when you have not behaved admirably. This will enable him to appreciate your sense of justice and prevent him from viewing you as nothing but a tyrant.