Age-appropriate forms of discipline


By Vida Li Sik

Here are expert tips on how to discipline your child:

Age 0 to 2

This age group responds best to routine.

*Say “No” in a firm tone when your toddler is doing something wrong or dangerous such as sticking their finger into a plug.

* Gently remove the child from the dangerous object and firmly say “No” while ensuring your facial expression matches your tone of voice.

*Distraction can also be an effective tool. Show the child a colourful book or toy to diffuse the situation and stop the negative behaviour.

* Ignore temper tantrums and avoid giving in. This can be very difficult as it’s easy to lose your own temper. Try to stay calm and allow a little time for your child to calm down. Direct your child towards positive behaviour by encouraging cooperation and speaking positively in a calm tone. *Celebrate good behaviour by clapping your hands and use phrases such as, “You’re such a good boy when you pick up your toys!”

Age 3 to 5

*Time-outs can be effective. They should last about three to five minutes for this age group. Use them in a way that sets boundaries, such as saying “You have three minutes to stop the fussing or you’ll get a time-out.” This gives the child an element of control which is empowering.

* Encourage the use of “please” and “thank you”. Withhold what the child wants until they say please.

*Take away a toy if the child abuses it or refuses to share. Always explain why you’re doing this.

* If the child messes – for example, spills juice on the floor – have them help you clean up.

Age 6 to 8

Children in this age group respond to clear expectations so parents should reinforce the rules and the consequences of breaking them.

*Take away privileges such as TV and electronic and computer games.

*Reduce play time by half an hour.

*Extend time-outs to 10-15 minutes.

* Make use of a star chart.

Age 9 to 12

This age group doesn’t respond well to being controlled and to parental power.

*Parents can use “grounding” (not allowing them to go out socially) as a form of discipline, for example, not going to a friend’s party or to the movies.

*Cell phones can also be taken away.

Age 13 and older

The use of contracts and negotiations is an effective form of discipline for this age group.

The behaviour contract must be drawn up together and the child and parent must have their responsibilities and consequences clearly outlined.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24