What Age Should Punishment Start?
By Michelle LaRowe – America’s Nanny
Many parents often wonder at what age they should begin to punish their child.
The truth is, never. You see, discipline is far more effective than punishment.
Discipline flows out of love, punishment flows out of anger. If you view discipline in the correct light, as a teaching tool with the goal of training a child to meet moral or behavioral improvements, this truly begins shortly after birth.
When a child reaches about two years of age, he begins to understand directives and can reflect back and recall prior instructions. That’s why most moms of 18 month olds sound like a broken record no throwing food, no throwing food, no hitting, no yelling. Their children can’t yet understand and remember consistently.
By age three, most children can understand directions and follow through. At this age, children are also becoming familiar with house rules and accepted standards of behavior.
When disciplining your child keep the following tips in mind:
- Always address the behavior not the child. Children are never good or bad, it’s their behavior that sometimes stinks.
- Validate feelings. Validate your child’s feelings without validating his behavior. “I know you are angry. When we are angry we say “I’m angry.’ We don’t bite.”
- Be consistent It takes repetition for a rule or expectation to be engrained in a young child. If you forget to mention a rule and a child gets away with breaking it, it’s like that rule never existed.
- Take the emotion out of discipline. When disciplining your child keep cool and use a firm but calm voice. Don’t try to rationalize with your child. He won’t understand the philosophy behind why we don’t use inappropriate language. He will however, understand that we don’t speak unkind words.
- Keep it simple. Keep the rules and directives you give your child clear and easy to understand. Say things simply (no hitting, no biting, no back talk, and no throwing food) and avoid long lectures.
- Make sure your verbal and nonverbal cues line up. When telling your child not to bite, don’t rock him in your arms and use a high pitched “cutesy” voice to tell him. Instead, look him square in the eyes and say no biting.
Keep these tips in mind when disciplining your child and you’ll find that the time and energy you’ve invested will pay off.
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Michelle is an active member of the nanny community. She is the founder and president of Boston Area Nannies, Inc., a local non-profit educational organization and has served on the International Nanny Association Board of Directors.
She is called on by the media as a nanny and parenting expert and has been affectionately dubbed America's Nanny. Michelle has appeared on television and has been featured in print.
Podcast of Interview with
Books by Michelle LaRowe
A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists: 100+ Lists to Save You Time, Money and Sanity - Grocery lists. Checklists. To-do lists. Lots of people love--and live by--lists. And parents are no exception. Today's families are busier than ever, and moms don't have the time or energy to search and scramble for the parenting information they are desperately seeking. This handy, practical reference guide will save time, money, and sanity for today's busy women.
Working Mom's 411 is your one-stop resource guide for navigating through the often choppy waters of managing kids, career and home.
Nanny to the Rescue - America's nanny offers a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced babies and toddlers.
Nanny To the Rescue Again - Faced with multiple choices regarding school, friends, and activities coupled with the ever-widening influence of the outside world, parents of 6-12-year-olds need help. America's nanny is back to offer a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced children.
To learn more, visit www.michellelarowe.com
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