October 1, 2014

K-M Community Education

Continuing with last week’s topic on Disciplining Your Preschooler, Iowa State University Extension Family Life Specialist, Lesia Oesterreich recommends several other opt-ions to follow when needing to guide and discipline your young child.

Using Natural or Logical Consequences can help children understand the connection between their actions and the results of their misbehavior. First Natural Consequences... these are results that would naturally happen after a child’s behavior if the parent did not do anything. Logical consequences should be used whenever natural consequences are dangerous or unpractical. For example, it would be dangerous for a child to experience the natural consequence of running into the street and getting hit by a car! Logical consequences happen when a parent helps the child correct the behavior. A logical consequence of a child running into the street could be losing the privilege of playing outside. Dad might comment, “Looks like you will need to play inside. When you can stay out of the street, then you can play outdoors.” The parent talks calmly and rather quietly to the child.

Often, the problem is not what the child is doing, but the way he or she is doing it. In that case, redirecting or teaching the child a different way to do the same thing can be effective. If you find your child is drawing on books, remove the books and say, “Books are not for drawing on”. Offer a substitute at the same time, saying, “If you want to draw on something, draw on this paper.”

Undesirable behavior can sometimes be stopped by not paying attention to it. In some situations, this can work effectively. When ignoring the behavior, parents would withhold all attention, praise, and support. Eventually, the child quits the unacceptable behavior because it does not bring the desired attention. This works particularly well when a child uses forbidden or swear words to get attention. Remember, ignoring means there is nothing said to the child, no eye contact made, just total ignoring.

Preschoolers often respond well to physical action when you need to discipline them. Touching them on the arm, taking them by the hand, picking them up, holding or restraining them are all good ways to get their attention. Spanking also will get their attention, but doesn’t do a very good job of teaching children how not to behave. In fact, spanking generally distresses a child so much that they can’t pay attention to your explanations and directions. Slapping and spanking can quickly get out out-of-hand for both parents and child. Most reported cases of abusive involve loving, well-meaning parents who lost control. Studies further show when children witness a great deal of spanking, slapping, or hitting they are much more likely to become aggressive themselves. It is always best to focus on teaching a child what to do rather than what not to do.

Last, parenting preschoolers is challenging and works better when you remember to take care of yourself. Rest, eat well, relax. Happy Parenting!

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