As a parent, you need to set limits and instill appropriate
behavior in young children. Sometimes, the best ways to
accomplish this are not very obvious. Here are several
suggestions to help you accomplish this more easily.
* Give specific instructions. “Be good” is not a specific
instruction. “I’ll play with you after you brush your teeth” is
a specific instruction. So is “Put your toys into this box.”
* Experts say it is far better to have a few rules that you
consistently enforce than to have many rules that you enforce
only once in a while. Therefore, avoid setting too many rules.
* Rules and limits you set for your child should be appropriate
for her age. They can be for the health / safety of the child
and adults, or for other reasons. Above all, clearly explain
both the rule and the rationale for having it.
the child the opportunity to freely express his feelings about
the limits you set. Even if those feelings are negative ones.
Respond by repeating their opinions in your own words -- “I know
you feel left out when mommy has to spend so much time with the
* Shouting at or hitting a child is
counterproductive and dangerous. Such behavior shows a lack of
respect for the child and can lead to other problems.
Get to eye level with the child and make eye contact when
* Be brief but clear on the rule or
limit. Talking too much is not very useful. In particular, avoid
labeling the child as dumb, slow, etc.
* Speak kindly
and firmly to the child. Emotion-laded speech and body language
is not useful either, when it comes to teaching self-discipline.
* Cut out your personal involvement in the situation. Don’t, for
instance, accuse the child of having done something just to make
* When possible, give the child a choice
between two alternatives that are acceptable to you. Being able
to make a choice always gives a feeling of greater control to
the child. He or she will then be far more willing to listen to
* Let a child know in advance what’s coming. For
instance, if she hates taking a bath, let her know that in
fifteen minutes, it will be bath-time. This will help reduce her
* Be sensitive to the child’s moods and
feelings, When he is hungry or tired, he’s much less likely to
cooperate with a new rule.
Follow these suggestions and you’ll make it easier for the
child to accept sensible limits and live by them.
About the Author:
Peter Andrews is a successful author and has written extensively
on parenting. Check out
for his articles covering parenting tips, baby care ideas and
many other related areas.
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
By Thomas Phelan from Amazon.co.uk