Discipline is the process of teaching your child what is acceptable and what is not.  It is not a form of punishment.  Disciplining your child requires both commitment and effective communication.  You can teach your child how to be respectful and to follow rules. Through the use of rewards and consequences, you can show your child how to be respectful and follow rules.

The word discipline is usually seen in a negative light as far as parenting is concerned. It brings about images of parents screaming at or even smacking a naughty child. While it is true that children often need a firm hand while disciplining, it is very important to know where to draw the line.

Remember that your child is never too young to start being disciplined. It is very important that your child learns the difference between right and wrong and the boundaries that he should not cross; the earlier the better. Here are some ‘smart’ ways to discipline your child at every age without resorting to spanking and screaming.

How to discipline your toddler?

1. Follow a system

The most important step in disciplining a toddler is to follow a system. If you want your toddler to start cleaning up her toys after play time, ensure that you follow a system where the last five minutes after play is ‘tidy up’ time where he has to return the toys to their proper place. What is important is that you follow this system everyday and not just sporadically when ever you fancy. This way, the act of cleaning up after play becomes a part of your toddler’s daily routine and you can avoid the usual disciplining techniques of threatening to throw away the toy, yelling etc.

2. Keep your word

Keeping up promises holds true even where punishments are concerned. So if you tell your child that he shall not be taken out to play if he refuses to behave properly, ensure that you follow the punishment through, instead of relenting at play time. Hollow punishments are a sure shot way to give your toddler the incentive to push his boundaries further.

3.  Don’t be too hard

At the end of the day, your child is still a little kid trying to make sense of the big world that he is exposed to, so he is bound to make mistakes; they are a normal part of growing up. Don’t have unrealistic expectations from your toddler. Always let him know that you are not angry or upset with him, but you are upset by his bad behavior and that you are asking for his help to drive it away.  Always make it a point to praise good behavior so that there is a sense of balance.

How to discipline your ‘bigger’ kid?

At this age when kids exhibit temper tantrums, power struggle and downright stubbornness, disciplining them in the right way becomes even more important. Remember that your child is not a baby any more and is old enough to do certain things on his own. So the first step in smart disciplining is not to command him to do everything. This will get him into the defensive mode. So instead of rattling off “brush your teeth’ “wear your jacket” etc like a dictator, ask him what he would like to wear today so that he is not cold. Knowing that he has some level of control, helps him to relax and go with the flow.