How to discipline your baby: 8 Things to keep in mind

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How should we go about correcting our young children's bad behavior?

When your baby gets older, it’s normal for her to start showing some attitude—throwing tantrums, willfully defying your orders, and so forth. It’s hard enough disciplining an older child, even more so with a toddler, who you can barely reason with. The experts at Young Parents enumerated some golden rules for us to follow when disciplining our young children:

1. Discipline with love

Remember that however you choose to discipline your child, you should always do it with love. Discipline is not forcing your child to behave a certain way, but is about wanting the best for your child. After disciplining your child, always reassure her that you love her, offering a hug.

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Photo: Dreamstime

2. Present a united front

If you think that you have a good cop/bad cop dynamic in your home, this should be fixed. Your child is smart—she’ll quickly pick up on who she can approach to get her own way, and in the end, it’ll get even more difficult to correct her behavior. Consistency is key.

3. There’s no such thing as a “naughty” child

Young children have underdeveloped impulse control—they aren’t even capable of having cruel or evil intentions. So it’s important to note that no matter how bad your child acts, she’s not a “naughty” child. In fact, if you find yourself calling your child “naughty,” you should stop—she might think you’re labeling her instead of her behavior. Instead, explain what she did wrong.

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Photo: Fotolia

4. Understand your child

Children tend to behave badly if parents are impatient and unreasonable instead of understanding and meeting their needs. Your child is still young and has not learned how to cope with feelings like boredom, hunger, and tiredness. Sometimes we just need to be patient.

5. Establish rules

Some parents end up giving their child too much leeway, tolerating bad behavior. However, the younger your child is, the more boundaries she needs. By not addressing bad behavior, it can be difficult to change them later on.

6. To spank or not to spank?

Though many of us were spanked as children and “turned out fine,” experts say that corporal punishment can damage children psychologically. Studies have shown that children who are spanked are more likely to have issues with depression, substance abuse, and anger as adults.

Try other discipline strategies first, but if you feel that you really need to spank your child, you should never do it in anger.

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7. Timeouts and toddlers

For kids aged two and upwards, timeouts in safe and quiet corners are effective techniques. Experts advise setting a minute for your child’s age. For example, a two-year-old child would get two minutes, and a four-year old would get four.

8. Distract your baby

For younger children, parents can try distracting the infant to prevent full-blown meltdowns. Redirect your child’s unhappiness and discomfort with fun activities, like a game or a song. Who hasn’t tried amusing a picky eater with a “choo-choo” spoon?

READ: Toddler discipline: Time-ins are more effective than time-outs

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