Twelve Discipline Rules That Get Great Results

Excerpts from The Go-To Mom's Parents' Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children by Kimberly Blaine

upset toddlerAre you in the face of the toddler tantrums and sibling squabbles? Are you tired of the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach after you've yelled at your child? You're not alone. Author Kimberley Clayton Blaine says emotions matter more than you think and she offers parents positive discipline alternatives that will yield great results over time.

Parenting is a tough and frustrating job. More than anything we want to help our kids grow into healthy, happy adults. Yet when they don't behave the way we want them to, it’s all too easy to resort to tactics we're not proud of. Yelling. Threatening. Spanking. We use these discipline techniques even though we feel bad afterward (and, obviously, so do our kids). And we stay stuck in our cycle of negativity because, quite frankly, we don't know any good alternatives.

Kimberley Clayton Blaine says there are positive, effective discipline techniques out there -- techniques that result in happy, well-rounded, well-behaved children. And best of all, they allow us to avoid the fighting, stress, and general feel-bad techniques we've resorted to in the past.

"There are better ways of teaching children to be cooperative," explains Blaine. "Fear and aggression are not effective, and they don't feel good to anyone. The true meaning of the word discipline is 'to guide,'" she adds. "And guidance means teaching. When we punish our children, we often leave out the guidance, which means we don’t often get the results we are looking for."

The alternative, says Blaine, is to employ a technique known as emotion coaching. It's a gentle, open-hearted alternative to old-fashioned, often aggressive discipline that can be used with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and young school-age children. Ultimately, emotion coaching gives parents the know-how and the confidence to build strong, productive relationships with their children.

Blaine says that there are a few simple, feel-good strategies parents can employ to make their disciplining more effective. Read on for twelve tips you can use starting when your child is an infant.

Set limits and expectations all along the way. Parents often make the mistake of thinking that discipline starts once children are older, not babies. But Blaine says it’s a good idea to begin providing guidance and setting limits as early as infancy. It sets your child up for success if she knows what the boundaries and expectations are from the beginning, then when she’s two you won’t be trying to undo all her bad habits or behaviors.

Don't let your own issues affect your discipline. If you've had a bad day at work or are just plain exhausted, it can be much easier to operate on a short fuse and let even the tiniest things push you over the edge. Before you interact with or try to redirect your child, make sure that you aren't letting your own personal anger or problems affect the way you react toward your child.

When your blood starts to boil, take a grown-up time-out. Blaine suggests that parents take a grown-up "cool-off" time when you find yourself too angry to deal with your child. Once you feel calm and collected, return to your child to address the situation at hand.

Keep communicating. The earlier you establish a healthy line of communication with your child, the more effective you will be in communicating discipline or behavioral changes to him. No matter what age your child may be. It’s important to keep communicating your thoughts and feelings with him.