Effective discipline tactics for toddlers, tweens and teens

Posted on 6 March 2020

Here’s a few strategies to help you implement effective discipline for toddlers, tweens and teens.

All children will be difficult at some point in their lives. It is a part of growing up – as new challenges and opportunities arise, your child will respond to them in a way that is unique to who they are, at that point. And it will be impossible to predict what form that reaction will take.

As they grow, children learn about the world and themselves. As an adult, it is difficult to imagine the astronomical rate of your child’s cognitive development. But this rapid mental awakening can cause stress, even at a very young age.

This anxiety can manifest in acting out, says Lo-Mari Victor, an occupational therapist at Mediclinic Worcester. “Every day, children are learning cognitive and emotional coping strategies to compensate for not feeling safe. A child who doesn’t feel safe and secure will inevitably use negative behaviours, such as acting out and having meltdowns, to show their discomfort with a situation.”

So how do you help your child to understand their stress, and teach them healthy coping strategies to process that angst? It all starts with self-esteem. “What we call self-esteem is really your child’s view and evaluation of themselves,” says Tia Roos, an educational psychologist at Mediclinic Durbanville. “This is an ongoing process. Negative self-esteem can affect your child’s motivation, interpersonal relationships and learning. Instead, you want to create a safe environment for children to develop trust, independence, responsibility and ownership.”

 

Clear, consistent boundaries, limits and rules

Your child’s expression of their burgeoning independence is a good thing, says Roos. “Never disregard healthy personal boundaries. Rather, challenge and trust your child to do things on their own and express their own views. Allow them to try and learn new things, to succeed and fail, to solve problems and to be confronted with their strengths and weaknesses.”

 

Patience

It is normal for children to have difficulty in handling their frustration, says Ronel Groenewald, a counselling psychologist at Mediclinic Kimberley. “Getting easily annoyed or nervous, often appearing angry, blaming others, refusing to follow rules and questioning authority, arguing and throwing temper tantrums, having difficulty in handling frustration – most children will display some or all of these behaviours at certain points.”

 

Communicate – and observe

If your child is not listening, or defying instructions, this could be normal, or it could be a sign of emotional and behavioural problems. These could have a significant impact on your child’s developmental progress. Listen to them and learn about who they are, advises Groenewald – this will help you spot out-of-the-ordinary behaviour that could require a doctor’s input. “Any behavioural disorder will have a detrimental impact on a person’s sense of belonging in a society. If left untreated, a behavioural disorder may have negative short-term and long-term effects on your child’s personal and professional life.”



In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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