Disciplining Children under Five
The discipline of very young children is a majorly challenging area of parenting. It’s so difficult that many parents have little or no understanding of how to proceed with disciplining a child who doesn’t seem to understand right from wrong, or good and bad behavior. The irony is that there is such a huge array of advice on the subject, but so few parents who seem to understand or incorporate it. Some parents seem to give up and let the child rule the roost. However, experts say that children as young as a year old can start to learn how to listen to their parents.
Manipulation and Communication
A normally-developed child has around 1,000 words in his or her vocabulary by the age of three. They command an understanding of cause-and-effect and relationships that parents easily underestimate. So for a parent, it can seem like a young child cannot control their tantrums and crying when they are denied something. However, the truth is that in most cases the child starts the tantrum because they are blackmailing the parent into getting what they want by making a scene. Giving into this manipulation only reinforces the behavior. Experts say that when a child starts to scream about a situation, there is no way to ‘make’ the child not scream. What can be done is to give the child an option. For example, if there’s a social setting and the child starts getting upset when denied a want, the parent can say: ‘I understand you’re upset, but if you want to cry, you can do so in your room, because mommy and daddy are talking. But if you want to stay here, you will have to stop crying,”
This kind of offered choice has the effect of calming the child down by making him or her realize that their behavior can’t be used as a weapon.