Who's the toddler?
Beware of the example you set when you shout and smack. Follow these tips to keep discipline constructive.
Discipline is important for children - and your sanity. It teaches children what is acceptable and unacceptable, sets boundaries and makes them feel secure.

However, many of us are inconsistent – letting things go unnoticed and then being extra harsh the next time. Few parents relish the sight of themselves as a red-faced screamer, but we all lose our tempers at times.

Now is the time, while your toddler is still small, to work out what you want from her behaviour -- and yours.  Developing a constructive discipline strategy is hard work, but it pays in the long run. Here are a few tactics to try the next time a blow up seems to be on the way.

Choose a strategy

Decide on a form of discipline (e.g. time-out or star charts) and stick to it. Your child needs to know what the consequences are of bad behaviour.

Use eye contact
Don’t shout from another room. Walk up to your child and get down to his level so you can look him in the eye.

Stop nagging
Give clear instructions and walk away. If he doesn’t comply, implement consequences without further discussion.

Star charts
A star chart is a handy discipline accomplice. Make a list of desirable behaviours (only one or two at a time for toddlers and pre-schoolers) and reward your child with stars. At the end of the day (or week for older children), your child can trade in the stars for a treat.

Time out
Another effective discipline strategy: Use a kitchen timer to time these sessions – increase time incrementally with age, e.g. two yearsold - two minutes; three years old – three minutes.

Family meeting
Always a good idea, especially if your children are older. Draw up an agenda and allow all members to discuss ideas and concerns.

Whatever your strategy, be consistent. Inconsistency not only guarantees failure, but increases your child’s anxiety levels.

What is your definition of discipline? Do you smack your child?

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