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Discipline with Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers may be lovable in most ways, but they still can do things that are provocative. Even the youngest of princes and princesses have potential to trigger the worst sides of the royalty they call Mom and Dad. It's best though to refrain from threats, punishments or even getting mad. Punishment can breed negative reactions like resentment and fear. Positive parent techniques by contrast breed self-confidence and empathy for others. Effective upbeat ways of handling young children also keep the tone of a household positive, decreasing the likelihood of marriage problems.

Even when they dump their food on the floor, write with colored markers on white walls, or whine till you are ready to scream, punishment generally is unnecessary and often proves counter-productive, both for baby and for parents. Excessive punishment teaches your child to be scared of you, and that the world is a scarey place. Getting mad easily raises your stress levels and lowers your young child's self-confidence. Harsh speaking or raising your voice volume to get your point across trains your child to ignore you when you talk at normal volumes.

So what's left?

Let's start by redefining the word discipline. Discipline need not equate with punishment. A better discipline definition is the art of getting kids to do what they need to do and not to do what they shouldn't be doing. That's not my original formulation, but it sure is a useful one.

Another discipline definition is clarification of what behaviors are in bounds and what are out of bounds. Clarification comes mostly by reiterating simple rules such as "No hitting, " and, like the umpire in sports, stopping the action when there's any violation.

Next time your baby or toddler does something wrong, that is, something that you don't like or that's unsafe, here's two far better options than threats, punishment or anger. I learned the duo from Durrani Sahib, a wise Sufi mystic whom my husband and I visited many years ago in the mountains of the NW Provinces in Pakistan. While the principles come from afar, they apply to parenting around the globe. I would welcome your comments about how they work for you.



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FAQ

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Are there any books about the psychological effects of baby actors

Caution: Girls at Risk talks about the damage done to kids in sports, but no books about damage done to baby actors. on!



Related facts

  • Alison Gopnik (born June 16, 1955) is an American professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. She is known for her work in the areas of cognitive and language development, specializing in the effect of...
  • Dr. Charles E. Schaefer is a world-renowned American psychologist considered by many to be the "Father of Play Therapy" who has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and Good Morning America. He is Professor of Psychology and is Director of both the...

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