Discipline is an issue in every family. You don’t want to punish every minor infraction, but you do have to set some limits for behavior. We’re probably more tense than usual after a year of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, but that doesn’t mean you should let up on reasonable boundaries for your kids. The Healthy Children website offers these tips:
• Redirect bad behavior. Children, especially younger ones, may not realize that they’re doing something wrong when they misbehave. Instead of just getting mad, suggest something else for them to do that won’t violate any rules you’re trying to enforce.
• Engage in creative play. Sit down with your kids to draw pictures or make collages that illustrate safe behavior. For more mischievous kiddos, have them draw pictures of not-so-good behavior as an example of what not to do. Hang up their drawings that illustrate positive family practices.
• Reinforce positive behavior. Don’t dwell on rude or inappropriate behavior. Instead, explain to your kids what they can do to avoid negative consequences.
• Use time outs. A “time out” can be particularly effective with young children. Give them a warning so they know what’s coming and they can choose to avoid it. This teaches them to control their actions and anticipate repercussions.
• Reward good behavior. Giving children extra privileges— an extra half hour on the computer, for example— when they take initiative to do something above and beyond expectations can generate a spirit of helpfulness in your kids.
Don’t respond to everything. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing every time your child steps out of line. As long as they’re not doing something dangerous, sometimes it’s better to let them work out a problem on their own or experience natural consequences of inappropriate behavior.