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Disciplining Your Preschooler

Preschoolers are able to learn rules and follow directions. With clear rules and consistent enforcement, your preschooler will learn self -discipline and self- control. Hitting and/or yelling at your preschooler are not effective discipline techniques. These actions teach your preschooler that violence and yelling are an appropriate response to anger or frustration.

How to effectively discipline your preschooler

•  Have a routine.   Have consistent routines for those times of day or activities that always seem to result in a battle (bedtime, mealtime, getting ready for school). Your preschooler will know what to expect and become used to the process, leaving less room for power struggles.

•  Establish rules together.   Sometimes a child may be acting out because she feels she does not have any control--allowing your child to help set the rules and decide on the consequences for breaking those rules may help her feel more control.   When a child is involved in setting the rules, she may be more likely to follow them.

•  Be sure that “NO” is not the word your child hears most often.   Praise your little one for good behavior so he does not see misbehavior as the only way to get your attention.   Remember, he is constantly seeking your approval so rather than placing blame, which will only make your child feel badly, ask questions about what happened, and what he could do differently next time.

•  Avoid power struggles.   Instead of engaging in the battle, acknowledge what your child is feeling. Say something like, “I know you are upset that we have to leave the playground because you are having fun playing on the slide.” Also give your child limited choices, and make sure you can be happy with the choices you offer, for instance, “You can put your coat on by yourself, or I can help you with it."

•  Take timeouts for you and your child.   Tell your child why a particular behavior is inappropriate and remove her from the situation (one minute for each year of age is appropriate). Take this time to re-group and do not talk to your child when she is in a timeout. Remember not to overuse timeouts. Use them only for aggressive behavior that requires removal from the situation (hitting, biting, etc.) and use a place free of distractions for the timeout.

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