Sunday, September 13, 2015

Disciplining Your Preschooler: What Method is Best?

What Method of Child Discipline Should You Use with a Preschooler?

What method of child discipline do you use in your home? As parents, we want to teach our children to be respectful, charitable and responsible members of society. How do you teach your children the proper way to behave and interact with others? I have been thinking about this issue a lot lately as Aiden has gotten older and his behavior has changed from the sweet little boy he was when he was two. It has made me re-evaluate my own ideas on parenting and how I am going to raise him to be a responsible, respectful adult.

To Spank, or not....

Child discipline is a topic that a lot of people are very opinionated about. Some spank, some some don't and others are unsure what to do. Many of us came from parents who spanked us, and we turned out okay, right? Yes, but in this day and age, it may not be the best way to discipline children. We have seen a lot of evidence that child abuse is a very real issue and teaching children that violence is not the answer when we smack their behinds it's a contradiction, don't you think?  How can you say to your child, "I'm going to spank you to teach you not to hit your little sister." What are they going to learn from that? How much of a child's behavior is naughtiness, and how much is simply his developmental stages?

The Old Ways

We spanked our other children we they were little, but I always hated it and felt like a failure as a parent. When Aiden came along, I decided I would do things differently with him. I breastfed him for almost a year ( something I wasn't able to do with his siblings) , wore him in a sling and we co-sleep even now.

He has been with me since he was a tiny baby. I would say my parental bond with him is pretty strong, but I think that mistakes I've made through thoughtlessness have weakened that bond a little. I have to admit that at times I have yelled at him and spanked him when frustrated with his unruly behavior. Which is common for parents, we hit that wall where you just can't take it anymore and they have pushed the limits as far as they can go.

I recently read a post by a father about why he stopped spanking his son, and I can identify with him completely. If you'd like to read the post, it is on the Intoxicated on Life blog and is very educational for those who might be interested. What hit home with me was, the fact that when we "lose it" with our kids, we become someone that even we don't like. An angry, yelling, red-faced person who tells them they're bad for doing this and swats them for every small infraction because that's what we think we're supposed to do to have well-behaved children.

Trade places with that child for a moment and imagine someone you love ( your parent or a spouse even) behaving that way towards you. How would you react? Would you love and respect that person and understand that they're trying to teach you to behave better, or would you just obey out of fear of what might happen next? I don't want to be feared as a parent. I want my child to obey because he knows it is the right thing to do because I took the time to teach him proper behavior.

Choosing Not to Spank

Choosing not to spank your child is not the same thing as being permissive. Not spanking does not mean no discipline at all. The word discipline means "to teach" so in promoting discipline in a positive way, you're teaching your child better behavior by modeling good behavior yourself. When you make the choice not to spank you will have all kinds of people telling you you're going to spoil them and have a little brat. But there is evidence to support the fact that when you treat children with respect and spend time with them creating that family bond, that as a result you will get respect back and better behavior because your child is happy.

Positive Discipline Methods

I used positive discipline techniques with my son when he was little and it worked like a charm. Until he was about 3 yrs. old and his behavior became more challenging. I was told by other people to just spank his butt and be done with it. I did spank him a few times but it didn't change his behavior, in fact, it made the problem worse. When he turned 4 he started yelling all the time, repeating me and others, and had a hard time listening or paying attention when I talked to him. He even fought me on time-outs, I would have to chase him and hold him in the chair for him to stay put. Now he bites other kids, hits and says mean things like " I hate you, you're stupid."

It was somewhat easy for me to look at positive discipline techniques like time-outs, natural &logical consequences and rewards charts as good alternatives to spanking kids. But was this the best method? This is already a long post, so I will continue this in the next post.