Despite having grown past the terrible tot stage, junior is still throwing tantrums — but now, it’s accompanied by signs of defiance. The worst part is, the usual discipline methods don’t seem to be working as well as it used to. But how do you cope with his behavior and not become the enemy?
SmartParents spoke to Maya Thiagarajan, author of Beyond the Tiger Mum on disciplining your child once they are past the toddler stage.
As a toddler, your tot’s brain had not fully matured, so the usual discipline methods like holding them to calm them down and simple, quick punishments might work. But as your child grows, so does their brain. They will now be able to comprehend their actions and understand why they’re wrong.
This might be the reason your usual method of just punishing them is not be working as well as it used to. Instead you should take up positive discipline.
Just remember that for positive discipline to work, you need to have built a strong relationship with junior – one where they feel like they can talk to you about anything and everything.
“My philosophy is to discipline as much as possible through love, not fear,” says Maya Thiagarajan. “And to err on the side of gentleness because in the long run, we all want our kids to grow up to be calm and kind adults, so we want to model for them how calm and kind adults behave.”
Positive discipline is a combination of love and gentleness together with firmness and strict boundaries. It takes a lot of control from you, the parents. However, positive discipline is a technique for the long run and facilitates teaching your little darling to be good, kind, well-adjusted and well-behaved; the “usual” discipline methods tend only to be effective for the short-term and do not offer any benefit for junior or you.
To achieve your goal of positive discipline, you need to show junior how to be kind, calm, firm and ethical through your own actions.
It’s crucial that you do not lose your temper or control in front of your child. By losing control, yelling or worse, inflicting pain, your little one will grow to believe and learn that this is how they should act when they grow up as well. Along the way, they might learn to tune you out or start avoiding you. Communication is much more important than meting out punishments.
Here are some examples of how to deal with your child, using positive discipline:
1) If junior misbehaves at home
Instead of just withdrawing privileges, talk to them and explain why that behavior was wrong and get them to write out how they can behave better in the future. This will help them understand why that specific behaviour was unacceptable and should not be repeated.
2) If your child misbehaves outside the home
“I think it is important to prep kids for outings when they are young,” says Thiagarajan. “For example, before you go anywhere, explain to the child exactly what kind of behaviour you expect and also remind them that their behaviour is a reflection of the family.
“Explain very specifically what you expect so that the child knows what he or she is supposed to do or not do.”
But if your child still decides to throw a tantrum or misbehave in public despite your prep talk, it is important that you do not start screaming and nagging in public. It will only cause a scene and neither of you will benefit from it.
Instead, try to remain calm and leave the place immediately, if possible. You should discipline junior at home instead and explain why that behavior was unacceptable.
“Children who are yelled at, belittled, and physically punished can suffer tremendously both in the short run and the long run,” says Thiagarajan.
Remember that it is important for your child to know that everything you do, including disciplining them, is for their own benefit and because you love them.
Maya Thiagarajan is the author of Beyond The Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age.
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