Children need discipline, including babies and toddlers. Discipline is a process of teaching your baby to be an independent being through self-control and self-regulation by establishing certain boundaries and reinforcing them so that he has a mental pattern of what he should or shouldn’t do.
Studies have shown that the way parents handle discipline can affect positively or negatively the IQ of their children. Children growing up in a hostile and restrictive home tend to have a lower IQ than those who come from a loving and democratic one. Drawing the fine line may not be easy, but it is not impossible.
Do establish discipline based on your beliefs and values.
Do explain the rules, and why those rules are there. Do make sure your child understands them.
Do make your instructions clear and authoritative. Don’t put them in the form of a request, such as “Can you, please, stop that?”
Don’t give out too many rules at one time. Saying “No” is ineffective; your baby might even think that his name is “No.”
Do be firm. A loud “No!” or “Don’t do that!” is okay with a toddler or child; for a baby, use sign language.
Don’t spank your toddler. Why not? It only shows you’ve lost control yourself, and you’re also showing your child that it’s okay to use force to dominate others. Don’t let your child model your improper conduct.
Don’t inflict any physical punishment. Don’t shake your baby or toddler. There are many instances of death resulting from shaking babies and toddlers. Shaken babies may experience brain damage, resulting in mental retardation and even blindness.
Do be consistent with your reaction to certain unwanted behavior. Any inconsistent discipline only confuses your child.
Do discipline immediately, and not after the fact.
Do give your child a good reason to obey, such as “Go to bed now, and I’ll tell you a story.” But don’t make it bribery.
Do show yourself as a loving and affirming parent. Do offer reassurance to your child that you still love him even though his behavior may be unacceptable, requiring discipline.
Discipline plays a pivotal role in the emotional and intellectual development of your baby, toddler, and child. Remember this: babies are egocentric, and they think the world revolves around them. Introduce discipline at around nine months of age, and not before that.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau