Health

Discipline: How much is enough?

A loving attitude, clear rules and applying the consequences that were stated will encourage the development of positive behaviours in children.

What do we know?
  • When the parent behaves in this way, the child is encouraged to explore their environment while respecting certain limits.
  • An enthusiastic parent who gives their child the opportunity to do fun things and be successful will, in turn, give the child confidence and will encourage them to explore their environment.
  • Respecting each child’s personality, parents should apply discipline that is not too authoritarian and not too permissive, so that the child will obey instructions.
  • Children who are too tightly controlled will have trouble making decisions and expressing their needs. On the other hand, children who are allowed to do anything they want will have trouble knowing what is acceptable and what isn’t.
  • Good discipline leads to success in school and the ability to make friends. If parents aren’t able to build respect for rules in their child in the early years (0 to 5), children may develop different types of behavior problems.
  • If parents don’t provide enough supervision (aren’t involved in the child’s activities, aren’t encouraging), and react with punishments, temper outbursts or rigidity, there is a greater risk that the child will have behavior problems.
  • Discipline that helps the child understand what is acceptable and what isn’t helps them develop social skills, empathy, self-control and the ability to pay attention and plan ahead.
Pay attention to...
  • behaviors in the child that should be discouraged.
  • behaviors in the child that should be encouraged.
  • situations that might lead the child to lose control.
What can be done?
  • Establish clear rules.
  • State the consequences that will follow if the rules are not respected.
  • Apply the consequences that were stated.
  • Ignore the child if their behaviors are aggressive or disrespectful.
  • Apply the technique of withdrawal (short and repeated). For example, take away an object that is a source of conflict between 2 children or ask the child to withdraw to a quiet place where they can calm down.
  • Say what the child does well.
  • Congratulate the child using both words and actions. For example, express your pride, give hugs, smiles, winks, etc.
  • Help the child to see the connections between their actions and the successful outcome they lead to.
  • Encourage the child to continue on a good path.
  • Support the child by offering enjoyable ways to calm down. For example, change activities, breathe calmly, distract or redirect the child's attention, etc.

This article is a publication from the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.

Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD)

The mandate of the CEECD is to foster the dissemination of scientific knowledge on the development of young children with an emphasis, but not exclusively, on the social and emotional development and on the services and policies that influence this development.

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