It can be a challenge to maintain discipline in young children. The fact of the matter is that, at the age of toddler and earlier, children aren’t able to communicate as effectively as they are later on. Still, it is important that parents begin to discipline their child at a young age.
When thinking about discipline and young children, it is important to think about what exactly discipline is and what discipline is not. Often, when we think about discipline, we think about punishing a child for misbehavior. While this may indeed be a part of discipline, the fact of the matter is that, especially with young children, there are more important aspects to discipline. For example, encouraging positive behavior in young children tends to be much more productive than discouraging misbehavior. In addition, even misbehavior should be seen as an opportunity to teach the young child proper behavior, and to help the child to be able to communicate more effectively.
There are some techniques that are especially effective for discipline and young children. For example, redirection is one of the best tools that a parent has in terms of disciplining a young child. When a child is engaging in an inappropriate activity, simply approach the child and redirect them to a positive activity. Modeling is another excellent discipline technique for young children. When a child is stomping on his toy, for example, you can simply tell the child, “oh no, we mustn’t step on our toys. That will make them break, and then we won’t be able to play with them. Here is how we should play with this toy,” and then pick up the toy and model the right way to play with the toy.
Perhaps the most challenging part about disciplining young children is that they have limited empathy, and a somewhat limited understanding of cause and effect. When a child hits her brother, for example, she knows that the brother screams. She may even like the sound. But she may not understand that the sound is coming because her brother is in pain. Helping children to learn empathy and to understand cause and effect is an important part of disciplining young children as well.