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Correcting a Child's Behavior

I don't like to say discipling a child, because I don't believe children need to be disciplined. I believe that children need to be taught and corrected.

Children are learning how to be a human in a big and scary world. They look to their parents for help and guidance. We owe it to them to teach them with a kind and loving heart. I don't believe in spanking, time out, or taking things away from children. It's my opinion that doing these forms of punishment does not teach a child the skills they need later in life.

Spanking teaches a child to hit when they are angry. I believe it has more to do with the parent not being able to control their anger then it does with teaching the child right from wrong. As an adult, you would not expect to be hit for doing something wrong, so why should your children be hit. Time outs take the child away from everyone else in the family and gives them the feeling that they are not worthy of attention and affection. To put them in front of other family members and to see the family functioning without them is not good for their self esteem. Taking things away from children teaches them to put more importance on material objects. They strive to get things because having things shows them they are worthy and good.

When children act out, they are trying to get our attention. They are telling us that they need help regulating their emotions. We are their teachers, and we should be there to guide them through their emotions. Children become self-conscious of emotions such as shame, embarrassment, guilt, and envy by the age of two. This is also the age they begin to show empathy, by recognizing that their actions affect others. Because children are beginning to understand their emotions, this is a great age to begin speaking to them about their feelings.

When your child gets upset or angry ask them why they are feeling that way. Create a dialogue about emotions. Let them know that we all get angry and upset sometimes. Teach them how to regulate these emotions by breathing and talking rather than lashing out and throwing tantrums. If they are too upset, or if you are too upset to speak in the moment, take a break. I would often tell my daughter to sit on her bed and get out her emotions. Once she was finished screaming and crying, I would open a dialogue with her. We would discuss why she was feeling the way she was. I would listen and tell her how I was feeling about the situation. If I was in the wrong, I would apologize, if she was in the wrong, then she would apologize. It's important to treat children with dignity and respect because what you model to them, they will model back to you.

My daughter would often test her boundaries. It was as if she forgot everything we talked about, and she would start all over again. The truth is, as children are growing, they do forget the past and need to be reminded. Remind them how to feel their emotions and explain as much as you can to them. Children need to know the "whys" in life. The more you take time to explain, the less you have to correct later. Saying "Because I said so" does not help your child develop critical thinking skills. They need to know why they shouldn't jump off the couch or run across the street without looking. You may think your children are too young to understand, but I assure you they will soak up whatever information you are giving to them.

Teach, discuss, and love your children. Teach them what it means to be a person. We are raising humans here. We cannot set unrealistic expectations and expect them to never make mistakes. I'm still making mistakes, so I expect my daughter to make them too. Make your children a part of the discussion and you will be surprised how great they become.



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