Preschool Parenting Class: Discipline

Thank you for joining us at for this month’s online parenting class. Our topic today is one that we as parents have to deal with probably every day…how and when to discipline our child.

We’ve all been there, in a public place and you hear a child pitching a fit, misbehaving or crying. We’ve all thought to ourselves, “If that were my child…(fill in the blank)”. And you know what, sooner or later, it will be your child. Even the most even-tempered child has their bad days. Misbehavior is so frustrating. None of us want to raise a spoiled brat, but we also want to foster independence and let them be their own person. How do you balance it?

Deciding how to discipline your child is something that is up to every parent. However, it is also very important to learn why kids misbehave and how we can make the most out of a trying and hard situation. When dealing with preschoolers, it may be beneficial to look at discipline as an opportunity for teaching, rather than a source of punishment. Most of the time, kids aren’t trying to be malicious, they are just being kids and they don’t think the same way adults do. Things that may make sense to us can be a foreign concept to them. Sometimes parents can overreact out of anger and frustration and not see the behavior for what it is…your child just being a child. You’ve just caught them coloring on the wall. To you, it’s a horrible mess and you don’t understand why they would do that. To a two year old, it is a masterpiece that they worked so hard on after they found some crayons! It is up to us to teach them what kind of behaviors are acceptable and which are not.

The most important thing to remember when approaching discipline is to be consistent. Decide which behavior you will allow and stick with it. These limits will be different for each family. What works for your friends, what they allow their children to do may not be right for your family. As a parent, it is your job to set limits for your child. Everyone, regardless of age, needs limits. The younger the child, the more defined the limits need to be. Limits, within reason, provide security. Don’t look at it as a restriction, but a way to protect your curious child.

Many times, children act out because they want attention. That may not make sense to us because they are getting in trouble, but they crave attention at this age regardless of the kind. Make sure that you are praising your child for what they do well. Show them that they will receive attention for good behavior. Also, make sure that you are on the same page as your spouse when it comes to family rules. Mixed messages will only confuse your child and make it harder on everyone.

I have two children of my own and I don’t think I could have been blessed with two any different from each other! My son has a precious, tender-hearted soul. His emotions are always just below the surface and he is definitely my worrier, the one always concerned about others. My daughter on the other hand is my free spirit, stubborn and fiercely independent. She has an opinion about everything and she’s not afraid to tell you about it! My husband and I have learned very early on that the same parenting techniques don’t work the same for them. We have to change things up depending on which child we are dealing with at that time.

Parenting is hard work and some days go much more smoothly than others. Make a plan for when those bad days happen and stick with it. Provide a consistent environment for your child. It will help them to understand what is expected of them and what the consequences are if they misbehave. Today we have just scratched the surface of discipline and our preschoolers. Later this month be watching for our next parenting class email. We will dig a little deeper into some techniques and tools that will hopefully help you to make a plan that works for your family and maybe give some insight that you haven’t considered before when it comes to discipline.