We will devote the next two months to talking about behavior and discipline for young children. As a starting point I will share with you the seven principles of discipline. Last Friday, on WLDY’s talkline program, I outlined these principles. I will discuss them in detail for you in this column. If you have any specific questions about behavior or discipline, I hope you will ask by letter, email, or telephone. If you have a question about some aspect of behavior, you can be sure that many parents, grandparents, and childcare providers have the same question and would appreciate hearing a discussion about it.
The first principle of discipline is to tell children what you want them to do as opposed to what you don’t want them to do. This sounds simple and common sense, but I would suggest to you that if you pay attention to what you are saying to your children, you will find it to be much more difficult than what you would expect.
To help you understand this better, I will first tell you a little about how our brains remember what we hear. If you are asked to recall what you remember of a long sentence that was spoken, you would most easily remember the last few words of the sentence. Thus, if you say to your child, “Only mommy and daddy can load the DVD player–please don't touch it,” the most significant words for your child are the last two, touch it. This is of course, the very last thing you want your two-year-old to do!
A better direction for your young child would be to say, “Here are three good programs. Which one would you like mommy to put on for you?”
Next time your two-year-old has poured the milk out of his cup onto his high chair tray, stop and think how you can phrase this in a way that tells him what he should do with his milk instead of what he shouldn’t do. If you practice doing this, you will be practicing the first principle of good discipline.
I know a little pussy
Her coat is silver gray
She lives down in the meadow
Not very far away
She’ll always be a pussy
She’ll never be a cat!
For she’s a pussywillow
Now what do you think of that!
Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, SKAT!
Each line of the song is a step up the musical scale. Each “Meow” is a step down the musical scale ending with a spoken, “SKAT”