Behavior & Discipline
Why is Behavior and Discipline Important?
Practicing consistent, positive discipline is one of the most important ways you can support your child’s healthy development. The goal of positive discipline is to guide your child to behave in socially acceptable ways. Positive discipline is crucial because it promotes your child’s self-control, teaches him/her to take responsibility for his/her actions, and helps him/her make thoughtful choices about how he/she treats himself/herself and others.
You can guide your child in many ways. You can model good behavior, encourage and support good behavior, and set consistent limits. As a parent, you model appropriate behavior in the way that you talk to and treat your child.
It’s also important to know how much you can expect from your child. Sometimes adult expectations exceed a child’s capability. Thus, the more you know about children’s developmental milestones, the better you’ll be able to guide your child successfully through life.
Once your child’s temperament is understood, it is important for you to be in tune with your own. Sometimes situations may arise when your child’s and your temperaments clash. Try to organize the environment so that “goodness of fit” happens when you set your child up for success by organizing the environment to fit his temperament. To achieve a good fit between you and your child, it is important to:
- Be aware of your child’s temperament and respect his or her uniqueness.
- Communicate with your child by making points clear and simple.
- Listen to your child; hear his or her point of view.
- Set limits to help your child develop self-control.
- Be a good role model.
Atypical Behavior and Special Needs Children
Some children need extra support and guidance from their caregivers. Like children who are developing typically, children with special needs require guidance that is positive and respectful. Keep in mind that it may take time to understand your child’s unique needs with regard to discipline. With time and patience, you’ll begin to understand how to set boundaries for and support the needs of your child.
Children with Down Syndrome: Some children with Down syndrome tend to have short attention spans and are easily distracted. They may also have trouble with hearing or speech. These all can affect their behavior. Using positive reinforcement and modeling appropriate interactions are helpful methods to use. This is because children with Down syndrome seek out praise and encouragement from adults.
Children with Autism: Children with autism may struggle with social interactions. For example, they may be uncomfortable with physical contact, fear change, avoid eye contact, and have delays in language and communication skills. Make sure your child is aware of any changes that may occur during the day and talk through the fears your child may have. Being a positive and flexible parent will help both you and your child.
Children with Aggression: Children with anger and aggression may tend to be easily frustrated, destructive, or explosive. They may scream a lot, have quick changes in moods, and demand attention. If you see these behaviors in your child, you may want to consult with your family doctor. It is important for you to make it clear that hitting, kicking, and pushing will not be tolerated. Non-hurtful discipline, such as using time-outs, is considered by many to be effective. Keep time-outs short and be positive when they are over. Make sure to praise your child when he or she maintains control.