Here are things you can do to help your child know what is expected and to learn and develop self-discipline.
Thinking ahead about your needs and your child’s needs can help prevent a difficult situation. When you go shopping your toddler might get bored, or become tired or hungry. They act out and you get stressed. Plan to shop in short bursts when the shops aren’t busy and your toddler isn’t hungry or tired. Let them help you in some way.
Teach them your values
Talk to your child about why you want them to do something, not just because you say so. They will learn what is important to your family, e.g. doing things together, listening to each other and speaking with respect.
Be a role model
It is also important to be a good role model by acting in ways you expect of them. Children have a strong sense of justice and fairness and if they see you acting in ways that don’t match what you say, they might resist what you tell them. They are more likely to copy what you do.
Notice ‘good’ behaviour
When children know what is expected and are praised and encouraged for doing this, it builds on their desire to please you. They are ‘rewarded’ when you notice the good things they do, and when you tell them how proud and happy it makes you feel.
Keep material rewards to a minimum or your child may learn to do things only if there is the promise of a treat.
Children learn responsibility by being part of making decisions rather than just following what parents say. Even
young children can be involved in making simple decisions.
This doesn’t mean letting children do what they want without making sure they stay safe. It means guiding
them toward good choices by:
• helping them learn how to problem-solve and think about consequences. This builds confidence and skills so they can make bigger decisions as they mature
• letting them learn by doing. They may not always choose what you like but as long as the choice is safe for them and for others, they will learn to trust themselves and to know that you trust them to make good choices
• encouraging them when they make mistakes. Mistakes teach children how to deal with frustration and disappointment. Encourage them to have another go.
Problem-solving, not punishment teaches responsibility and self-discipline.
Be clear about rules and limits
Work out your family rules early to avoid problems. They need to be simple, consistent and predictable. Rules can be adapted as children get older and become more independent.
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