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Discipline with Love and Respect

Guiding young children's behavior is challenging work, but it is the most important job of the family. Children need your help in learning how to behave. Discipline and supervision change with the age of your child. Young children demand more time in guiding their behavior. Older children still need your guidance, but the amount of time and the number of times is less.

Always keep in mind that discipline, which really means teaching, is "training that develops self-control." Discipline is not mean. It is not embarrassing. It does not destroy a child's sense of worth. Eventually you want your child to develop the internal ability to guide his or her behavior and actions in proper ways in all situations, even when you are not there. This can be done if you do it a little bit all through childhood. Begin when your child is very young. Remember that the world is different from when you were young. Your child may need different skills.

Once you get used to the idea that you are a parent, it is important to get comfortable with the idea that you are responsible for guiding your child's behavior. In the process, you are going to be ignored, neglected and unpopular at times. In order to help your child develop self-control, you must have confidence that you are doing the right thing for your child. Keep your goal in your mind.

You need to discipline and guide your child's behavior respectfully, firmly and matter-of-factly even when you are feeling anxious or angry. You need to remain in control.

All through the stages of development, children need to know in advance what is expected and which behaviors are unacceptable. Young children are not able to always understand the words you say, even if you tell them what to expect. When children are young, you need to watch what they are able to tolerate. Leave when their behavior and attention span are not up to the activity. For example, when you take a very young child shopping, watch carefully for what the child can tolerate. Shopping is fun for a certain amount of time. Then the child might need to go on to another activity.

Let your child know in advance what you expect if they are older. If there is not a lot for your child to do, remember to bring things along that are fun and interesting. These added activities create a lot of opportunities for appropriate behavior.

If you need to reprimand your child, no matter what age your child is, always do it privately and respectfully. Remember that you are teaching the child what you want him or her to do. Be firm and kind.

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