Dr. Katharine Kersey’s lists of “The 101 Guidance Principles of Discipline” are excellent stress- reducing practical ways to help children see the sense in acting a certain way (Hymes). With Dr. Kersey’s permission, here is the second of three columns dedicated to her wisdom.
: Give encouragement as often as possible, six times for every correction. Help children see the progress made. (“You got three spelling words correct. That is better than last week!” “Doesn’t it feel good to be able to zip your own zipper, make your own bed, clean up your own spills?”)
: When talking with children, get down on eye level, kneel or sit, and look them in the eye while talking softly.
– Make sure that children always know where to turn for help. If you aren’t available, be sure someone is. Set aside 15-30 minutes a day to focus on them with the phone off. Children love to know they bring us joy and pleasure. Lighten up and have fun.
:” Our family rule is to wash your hands before eating.”
If the child’s misbehavior cannot be stopped, you or child can move to another room or location. Come back together when you and the child are ready to make good choices and discussions.
Brainstorm with children possible solutions to the dilemma, problem, or predicament. Print them out.
Teach children and everyone to take three slow, deep belly- stick- out breaths and count slowing to five starting with zero when upset. Everyone will think more clearly.
Keep a written record of the frequency of inappropriate behaviors. Record the antecedents (possible causes) as well as the consequences. Look for patterns that may give clues as to possible reasons, situations and/or solutions. Tired? Hungry? New situation?
Give children a cue such as a hand gesture to remind them ahead of time of the behavior you want them to exhibit. For example, teach children that instead of interrupting when you are talking with somebody else gently squeeze your hand. This will let you know they want to talk to you (as you return the squeeze) and as soon as you can, you will stop the conversation and find out what they want.
Don’t place temptation in front of children. (Don’t leave the candy dish out if you don’t want children to have any candy.)
: Children behave better when they know what they can count on. Establish traditions, which they can anticipate and which provide them with fond memories and feelings of belonging and security.
When in doubt, hold children, hug them, and tell them how much you love them.