As a veteran nanny with over 10 years of experience I have seen my fair share of tantrums, melt downs and have had days where I never thought we would be able to leave the house. I have learned many tricks of the trade along the way, and have been hired by some families to help specifically with behavioural issues and discipline techniques. As a yoga teacher I continually teach the principle of ahimsa, non harming, in all of my classes. With respect to disciplining this may relate as emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually non-harming.
Parents you can discipline keeping in mind the principles of ahimsa and have success! The biggest reason being consistency in how you choose to discipline. With consistency your child begins to understand what the outcome will be, not may or could be, of their negative behaviour. I had a great conversation with a few people on twitter the other night about discipline and how we choose to discipline our children. I am here to share with you the technique that I have always used and found success with. I have seen all types of negative toddler and preschool behaviour from hitting ones own parent, to stealing several different items, talking back, not listening and much more!
Full disclosure – I cannot stress enough that consistency is a big factor in successful discipline. My husband often tells people the story of how we were standing outside with a little boy that I took care of and his parents when he started to run down the sidewalk. Both parents began to tell him to come back and he continued to run. I said his name once and he stopped dead in his tracks and walked back. Why? He knew that I was always consistent in my discipline. I wasn’t a bully about it, never lost my temper, always spoke in a calm way and never showed emotions towards the negative behaviour causing more of a reaction from the child that I didn’t want.
1. Let your child know what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. Display positive behaviour yourself and recognize positive behaviour when your child displays it.
2. When your child displays behaviour that is not acceptable, immediately issue a warning. Get down to their eye level and speak in a calm but strong voice so your child understands that you are not playing. Issue this warning no matter if you are at home, at the grandparents, at a park, or in a grocery store. Hopefully the warning is enough for your child to change their choice of behaviour. Inform your child that if they do not stop behaviour X that they will need to have a time out.
*note on time outs- I like to issue time outs in areas where I can see the child. ie: a stair step, or chair, park bench, etc. This ensures that I know the child is completing the time out, thinking about the behaviour displayed, taking time to cool down, etc. I don’t like sending a child to their room as they have toys and books to play with there, therefore defeating the purpose of a time out. Your child can also see you, knowing that they are not being left alone.
3. If the child continues the negative behaviour immediately place them for a time out in a calm way. Continue to breathe throughout the process, knowing that if you get stressed the situation will not improve. Your child will feed off your energy. I give a minute of time out for each year of the child’s age. See what works for your family.
4. If the child comes off the designated time out spot I calmly place them back on the step/chair and do not talk or negotiate with them as I do so. The clock then starts again once they are properly sitting and no longer flailing their body around (I have seen some pretty good acts with this!). At times, especially in the beginning, you may spend what feels like hours placing your child back on the designated time out spot. I have had to cancel outings because I was still trying to complete the follow through process on a time out. I promise that this does get easier. You are being tested by your child. They know that they can push your buttons and that in the past you may of become stressed, yelled or just gave in to the behaviour and stopped the time out process.
5. Once the child has completed the time out have them tell you why they were put in timeout, to make sure they understand the why, and have them apologize for the behaviour. Then share a nice big hug with your child and continue on with your day, leaving what just happened behind. Its time to start over 🙂
You will find over time as your child understands the family boundaries and what behaviour is socially acceptable you will have less and less negative behaviour. Remember to stay calm, centered and know that you are recognizing negative behaviour and trying to correct it out of love for your child.