Whatever the age of your child, it’s important to be consistent when it comes to discipline. If parents don’t stick to the rules and consequences they set up, their kids aren’t likely to either.
Here are some ideas about how to vary your approach to discipline to best fit your family.
Ages 0 to 2
Babies and toddlers are naturally curious. So it’s wise to eliminate temptations and no-nos — items such as TVs and video equipment, stereos, jewelry, and especially cleaning supplies and medications should be kept well out of reach.
When your crawling baby or roving toddler heads toward an unacceptable or dangerous play object, calmly say “No” and either remove your child from the area or distract him or her with an appropriate activity.
Timeouts can be effective discipline for toddlers. A child who has been hitting, biting, or throwing food, for example, should be told why the behavior is unacceptable and taken to a designated timeout area — a kitchen chair or bottom stair — for a minute or two to calm down (longer timeouts are not effective for toddlers).
It’s important to not spank, hit, or slap a child of any age. Babies and toddlers are especially unlikely to be able to make any connection between their behavior and physical punishment. They will only feel the pain of the hit.
And don’t forget that kids learn by watching adults, particularly their parents. Make sure your behavior is role-model material. You’ll make a much stronger impression by putting your own belongings away rather than just issuing orders to your child to pick up toys while your stuff is left strewn around.