Two is a good age to start considering discipline – if you haven’t done so. Steer clear of these 10 worst mistakes made by many parents.
Misunderstanding the purpose of discipline
Discipline aims to teach your young child to follow rules and behave. It is not about controlling your toddler, but teaching her self-control.
Don’t just warn her about what she can or cannot do; it’s important to encourage her to think about her behaviour instead.
Don’t respond to every single act of misbehaviour. Sometimes, it is best to ignore minor infractions. Otherwise, you’ll end up in confrontations with her throughout the day.
Lack of explanation
Your toddler is more likely to follow rules when she understands their purpose.
So tell her, for example, why she is not allowed to explore the contents of the under-the-sink cupboard (“You can’t go in there because you may get hurt.”) or why she should tidy her toys (“When you put your toys away, that makes me happy.”).
Overusing punishment It’s very easy to rely on punishments, but the more you use them, the less effective they become.
If you find that you are using more punishments than rewards, try to redress the balance. Make sure, also, that punishments are fair and carried out at the time of her misbehaviour.
Don’t make a threat that you won’t carry out. For instance, warning your young one: “If you do that again, I’ll throw all your toys away and you’ll have none left,” is unrealistic.
She simply learns that you don’t mean what you say. As a result, she starts to ignore your threats because nothing has happened.
The constant niggling, tantrums and misbehaviour of a two-yearold can wear any parent down. And you may have to snap at her, chastise her, and complain about her – all the time.
If you are nagging at her all day, stop and rethink your approach. Maybe you don’t need to be so critical.
Timeout – in which a toddler is removed to calm down when she misbehaves – must be used properly. For it to work, she should never be left alone.
There must also be a fixed period for time-out (for example, two minutes). Finally, she must be told how she can avoid a timeout in the future.
This is the promise of something positive before your two-year-old behaves well – she does what you want to get the reward – and she may start to expect or demand a reward for everything she does.
You may think that a reprimand will discourage her misbehaviour, but she may enjoy your attention – negative attention is better than no attention.
Reward her good behaviour with your attention instead of focusing on bad behaviour; for example, praise her positive actions.
Criticising your kid
Reprimand her for her behaviour, not her. Don’t say: “You were very nasty hitting your friend during that play date.”
Instead, you should tell her: “I was very upset when you hit your friend because you are usually such a kind and caring child.”
If you are nagging at her all day, stop and rethink your approach. Maybe you don’ t need to be so critical.
ILLUSTRATION CHENG PUAY KOON