*This part two of our appropriate discipline by age blog. The beginning is a repeat of the last blog, but hone in on the school age years in this piece.
As a parent of two young boys, I often wonder if I’m being too tough on my children. One of my greatest fears is they grow up with poor manners and defy authority. I want them to be independent and critical thinkers, but I also want them to respect other people as well as their opinions and beliefs. So, I often question myself when it comes to appropriate discipline. If this is a topic that you have concerns about, please continue reading. But do so after you’ve read our blog about developmental milestones. These two topics intertwine. The link to that blog is here.
How do you get a teenager to respect authority? How do you deal with a preschooler throwing a tantrum? How do you get your toddler or one-year-old not to touch something that’s dangerous? To answer the question simply, it all begins with consistent discipline. If you don’t stick to rules and consequences, it’s unlikely your child will either.
Being a parent and an educator, I’m always looking to the experts for advice and then implementing the techniques or strategies I learn about looking for the best fit for my personality and family. With an abundant amount of information out there, it’s overwhelming. So, I want to help simplify and consolidate the information for you.
Typical Behavior and Discipline Strategies:
6-7 Year-Old Behavior
As the world has rapidly expanded around him/her, the new challenge is to handle these new social and academic pressures.
He/she can now show appropriate self control in group situations. Cooperation is a skill that becomes understood and you will see less shouting out and acting out.
Frequent rewards or reinforcement is needed as waiting for a long period to receive a reward is not something easily done.
6-7 Year-Old Discipline Strategies
Instead or correcting mistakes for him/her, offer creative strategies and problem solving techniques.
Reward now, not later. If your child has done something you asked them to do, reward them. Possibly, develop a daily incentive for keeping his/her room clean, picking up the toys, or helping with the dishes.
Only give consequences that correspond to the problem. Praise and reward often when he/she chips in around the house. This will build good self esteem.
8-12 Year-Old Behavior
Fitting in and learning where to fit in is the difficulty of this age. You’ll see ups and downs with follow through on expectations.
It’s typical to see a swing from helpful to difficult often. Backtalk may increase as that Preteenish attitude emerges.
There is an understanding of right and wrong and she/he will look to you for guidance and reinforcement.
8-12 Year-Old Discipline Strategies
Sometimes it is best to talk out the problem. However, if your child knows the consequence for an action, enforce it. If the problem is new, it’s time to sit down and talk it through. Then, together set an appropriate consequence.
Options are important. Try reasoning as you would with an adult. By learning early that life is about choices, he/she will learn that privileges can be taken or lost completely.
Use natural consequences for actions. Don’t apologize for them when they have hurt a friend. Don’t wash the clothes when they didn’t put them in the hamper. If they borrow something and lose it, have them replace it. In other words, don’t rescue your child from their own mistakes.
13 & Over Behavior
The foundation has been laid and your child knows what is expected. They know the penalties for bad behavior. But, it’s not a time to let your guard down.
This is an age of major brain rewiring. Teens are can be moody, aggressive, lie and push boundaries far.
13 & Over Discipline Strategies
Set boundaries like you did when they were 4. Just like you set a bedtime, set rules for phone usage and completing homework. Also, establish consistent and firm curfew times.
When rules are broken, privileges should be taken away. This is how the real-world works. They should get use to it.
Give your teen some control. It will limit the power struggle and make him/her feel respected and responsible. Give them some slack on clothing selection, hairstyle, etc.
Before you try a more aggressive approach to disciplining your child, like spanking, please try to implement the above strategies and educate yourself on the brain of a child. Most children will model the behavior that they see most often. If you have successful strategies that have worked for you at home, please reach out and let us know. We’d love to tell others.