It’s become societal norm that when our little ones are experiencing huge emotions, we look to suppress their feelings or punish their behavior. Discipline such as social isolation, spanking or threats are used as an attempt to fix child’s behavior. But do they work? And what are the consequences?
Parenting can be the hardest job in the world, and although very difficult at times, it’s important to remember that meltdowns and those difficult parenting moments are often a great time for our little ones to learn. Learning in those moments helps their brain to develop and become integrated.
Our natural reaction is to suppress, and more traditionally punish, but it’s really important not to shut our little ones down during these difficult moments. So, remembering the true meaning of the word “discipline” can really help us.
If your child dwells on a disappointment for hours, then you have to begin with the basics.
Teach your child what can and can't be changed. He may not understand that the problem is out of your control or that a tantrum won't get him what he wants. Validate his distress by saying, "I know you're upset," and then discuss more effective solutions.
Expose your preschooler to different activities until he finds one that he really enjoys—and that you could see him mastering. If a child can turn to something, he knows he's good at when the chips are down, it's like an instant ego boost, says Dr. Brooks. "It can immediately change his thought pattern from, 'Poor me, nothing ever goes my way,' to 'Oh well, it'll work out next time.'"
Don't punish your child for a negative reaction to disappointment, especially if she's prone to tears. While that can be hard, remind yourself of the times you've needed to vent or have a good cry to get through a rough situation.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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