When your little one misbehaves, keep cool and don’t fall into one of these familiar discipline traps, reminds DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.
The “fight fire with fire” trap
You are so annoyed with your toddler’s misdemeanours that you fly into a rage and scream at her. You think this will coerce her to behave better.
WHY THIS IS A TRAP Confrontation may appear to be effective – your little one is so shocked at your intensity that she stops in her tracks. But when you are out of sight, she’ll simply continue to hit, bite and push.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD Keep your temper in check and respond to her calmly and firmly. Explain what she has done wrong and how she should have conducted herself when that incident annoyed her. Also, praise her when she does carry herself well.
The “zero-tolerance” trap
Everything she does wrong, major or minor; you react immediately with a severe reprimand.
WHY THIS IS A TRAP This approach can easily backfire because it forces you to give your toddler exactly what she wants – your attention. As far as she is concerned, negative attention is better than none at all. She’ll keep on misbehaving.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD Be prepared to ignore some of the trivial incidents. By all means, react immediately she is verbally or physical aggressive, but hold back for the less significant transgressions.
The “empty threat” trap
When you see your toddler get up to mischief, you threaten to punish her so she’ll stop what she is doing immediately. Once you have calmed down, though, you change your mind and decide that you won’t follow through.
WHY THIS IS A TRAP The immediate temptation to discipline your one-year-old is strong, especially when you see her hit another child or have an embarrassing tantrum at the busy shopping mall. But if you tell her that she will get a time-out, yet don’t carry though, she will soon learn that that you don’t mean what you say.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD Think carefully before you voice it out. If you do threaten her, explain clearly what she did wrong. Then, make sure the punishment is appropriate (for example, reducing her play-time), and then implement it.
The “wait till your father gets home” trap
You feel that your husband should play a more active role in managing the little one. So when she misbehaves in the morning and drains you emotionally, you warn her that you’ll tell Daddy all when he gets home in the evening.
WHY THIS IS A TRAP There are two parts to this trap. First, by the time Daddy gets home from work in the evening, your one-year-old has forgotten all about the incident. Second, Daddy wants to play with his little darling after a long day, not reprimand her.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD Discuss your concerns with your husband and be on the same page about discipline situations. If she misbehaves when Daddy is at home, step back and let him sort it out this time.
"Discuss your concerns with your husband and be on the same page about discipline situations."
ILLUSTRATION CHENG PUAY KOON