Many challenges come with parenthood. Most parents struggle trying to appropriately discipline their children. Being too strict can break a child's spirit, and being too lenient can lead to future discipline problems. Using gentle discipline is a balanced approach to providing your children the guidance they need.
Avoid power struggles. Power struggles are common among parents with strong-willed children. Avoid getting into a power struggle with your child because that will only lead to further frustration for you and the child. Instead, take a deep breath, walk away and collect your thoughts so you'll be able to approach the situation from a different perspective.
- Give limited options. Young children want to assert their independence. If you practice parent-centered, authoritarian-style discipline, your child is likely to rebel. Allow your child to feel a sense of personal power by providing options for her to choose from. Instead of saying, "Put on your black shoes," try asking, "Would you like to wear your black shoes or your brown shoes?"
- Share responsibilities. Young children do need age-appropriate chores and responsibilities as a member of the household, and most children want to help their parents. However, you will find it easier to get your child to clean up when the responsibility is shared. "Let's start picking up your toys'" is usually a lot more effective than "Go pick up your toys."
- Use specific guidance. Don't remind your child to behave when you arrive at the store because that is simply too vague. Be specific. Say "When we are in the store I need you to stay beside me the entire time" or "Let's not pick up anything in the store so that nothing accidentally gets broken," and then ask the child whether she understands.
- Never withhold affection. Your children should always feel that you love them regardless of their behavior. Even when disciplining a challenging child tell him that you love him and will always love him. Hugs and kisses should be a daily occurrence along with support and encouragement.