Disciplining your preschool aged child
Preschoolers can bright and bubbly bunch to be around. That age between 3 and 5 years is quite an exciting time. They are learning to communicate, read and write, and are building new friendships. However as fun and exciting as this time can be, it can also be a troublesome time when behavior issues arise. It can take a lot of time for your preschooler to learn how to get a long well with others and follow rules in preparation for school. And it will take a lot of patience on the part of you, the parent. There is not one discipline that works for all kids, because not all kids are the same. So in order to find the best discipline approach for you and your child, let’s look at some tips and tricks of the trade that have worked for parents before you.
Understanding your preschooler
The first step to learning which discipline method will work best for you and your child is to learn a little more about your preschooler. Preschool aged children are busy little bees absorbing and learning all about their world around them. They tend to ask a lot of questions, this isn’t to annoy you, although at times it may seem like it is. It is however because they are generally interested in what they are asking. It can be a difficult time for your preschooler, because now they are learning to share and take turns. If they are an only child, this can be a difficult transition for them. Preschoolers are independent and often take try new things, while taking risks. It’s important to encourage their budding personality and general interest in the world around them, but all the while making sure they are safe in the process. One thing that is quite common with preschool aged children is they try to “shock” you by using words that are forbidden. They love to get attention, and if they are not getting positive attention they will seek out for negative attention in this way. To them getting any form of attention to them is much better than being ignored.
Preschoolers like to make their own decisions, because it makes them feel special and important. In fact they enjoy it so much that sometimes they can get too carried away and become bossy. They tend to be chalk full of energy and will wear you out rather quickly. They like to play hard, and fast, but also tire and wear out quickly.
How to approach discipline
There is no right way or one method to disciplining your preschool aged child. All children have different personalities and respond differently to things. Often times many successful disciplining methods stem from using a variety of methods to deal with different behavior problems. Below we will discuss some useful methods to disciplining your preschooler.
- Foster a safe environment
As you learned above, preschoolers tend to be outgoing and big time risk takers, so it’s important to establish an environment for them to learn and grow in safely. They love to climb and are quick as lightening, so it’s important to take a look around your home or anywhere your preschooler may spend their time to look for things they may climb on or try to get into. With preschoolers if it’s out of sight it’s usually out of mind. So it’s best to lock up anything that may be a danger to them.
- Create a routine
Preschoolers thrive on a routine and consistent bedtime schedule. It’s important early on to establish a routine that involves play time, nap time, eating, and bedtime. Creating these consistent times during the day will help them learn how to pace themselves and what to expect next.
- Setting a good example
Preschoolers love to imitate the adults around them. So it’s important when they are watching and even when they are not to make sure you are on your best behavior. You want them to imitate the good behaviors. This is one way you can teach your preschooler to share without actually making them do it. If they see that mom or dad loves to share their things, they will be more open to sharing their own toys.
- Redirecting bad behavior
If you catch your preschooler in the act of drawing on the walls, try redirecting them to a piece of paper and letting them know specifically that walls are not for coloring, but we are allowed to color on paper. Sometimes redirection works best especially for children that learn from examples.
- Using your words properly
You can use your words carefully to help teach your child. It’s important to focus more on what to do rather than what they shouldn’t do. Here are a few examples that can help
Instead of saying: Stop your running Try saying: Slow down and walk
Instead of saying: Don’t touch that Try saying: Come here and hold my hand
Instead of saying: Stop yelling Try saying: Use your inside, or quiet voice
Time out has proven effective for many parents. A time out is really just a cooling off period for them to sit quietly and think about the behavior that has occurred. For young preschool aged children you should make their time out 1 minute for each year of age. This will give them a few minutes to settle down and think about what has just happened and why they are in trouble. In order for them to do this you will want to make sure you specifically tell them their incorrect behavior and that they are in trouble for that behavior prior to putting them in time out. When their time is up, you should address your child at their eye level and ask them why they were put in time out, and why that behavior is not allowed. It’s also a good time to teach them appropriate behavior to handle the situation should it arise again.
Preschoolers are testing to their parents. It’s a fun age and full of learning and excitement, but it can also be a tiring age as well. It’s important to never think of yourself as a failure because your child is not responding well to the discipline you chose. Instead look at it like a learning experience to get to know your child better, and find a discipline that works well for both of you.