My training on Child Guidance is exactly that - Guidance, not punishment. It's a matter of re-training ourselves as a parent to guide our child through developmental stages of learning and making mistakes - which is okay - so that they learn from their mistakes and make positive clear choices as young people and adults. There will be frustration, defiance, and struggles along the way which will lead to future self confidence, clarity, safety, and making their dreams in life come true. Structure and Nurturing are at an even balance with no guilt, shame, punishment, and over parenting - doing it for them - involved. It's a consistent method to teach, role model, and provide natural consequences.
Reminding children of their positive behaviours will always reinforce positive behaviour. Catching them doing constructive and positive decision making will keep their self esteem higher. Asking the children to 'walk' instead of 'stop running' inside the house or 'please use inside voices' when babies are napping instead of 'stop yelling loudly'. Offering them a chance to express themselves through energy, art and music will help calm them. I use a friendly and firm voice while being aware that my body language and facial expressions are loving and kind so children do not feel disapproval; rather they feel supported.
Children will need to learn to "wait" at some point in their lives and they can learn it slowly while they are young as long as their basic needs are met. By the time a child enters a school setting they will need to share a teacher's attention with 20 children or more. Learning to be patient and wait our turn is a huge skill! When we're born we get our needs met immediately and by the time we are an adult, we sometimes still insist on getting immediate relief or results. It's important to teach a child to wait before they enter the school system otherwise we are setting up a child to be demanding, selfish and not only do other children notice that and will make fun of them but adults will become frustrated too. Children can end up being bullied or even become one when they don't have the skills to wait or take turns. Teaching a baby to wait a couple of minutes is healthy and to always make sure that they have their needs met as we don't want them to go hungry or get overtired.
There will be times to use different methods of child guidance although there are some that do not work. I do not use "time out" as it gives the child a feeling of isolation and that they are a 'bad' child. Instead I look at the behaviour which is inappropriate or hurtful and the child is still honoured. Using a 'time in' method involves taking a child that has done an inappropriate behaviour and having them sit beside me in the same area or room with everyone else and having them take a few moments to do something else instead of what they were previously. Asking the child if they are ready to go back to the previous activity but with respecting everyone in the room, and giving them the option to say yes or no. Keeping safety in mind first and then respecting everyone's needs.
It will be necessary to take a child's hand and hold it down for a moment as a distraction, look them straight in the eye and firmly say, "No hitting, that hurts." If they do it again, then they need to move away from the child they are hitting and sit next to me. I will offer them something else to do and talk to them by pointing out how it made another child hurt or cry, ask them what they will do to make it up to the sad child, and go from there. It's important for children to have a warm connection with caregivers, parents and any adult that sees them regularly. The more the connection - usually the less correction. Children for the most part want to please an adult so with encouragement and role modelling, they will step up. Sometimes a child may be hungry, tired, bored or otherwise so we need to meet their basic needs first.
This is what I know has worked from my training and most importantly - experience. I build a strong emotional connection with all children. That is why I do far less correction! It really works because my relationship with a child is so important for trust and stability.
1. Inappropriate behaviours do not go away on their own; they just get worse without intervention so it's important to call it for what it is. Be straight and firm with a child because an innocent hit, bite, hurtful words will eventually lead into bullying behaviour if it is ignored or not consistently dealt with as it will end up turning into a habit.
2. Role modelling behaviour is the biggest influence on a child! What a child sees and hears from everyday situations whether it's parents, television or anyone else in their lives, will be what a child learns and develops over their lifetime. It is so important to role model positive and compassionate behaviours as empathy is the number one feeling that will separate a child considered "normal" in society versus ending up learning destructive behaviours.
3. Once clearly defining the inappropriate behaviour - make a specific plan to stop it immediately. Correcting it consistently at home, in childcare, grandparents, etc will send the strong and firm message to the child that the behaviour will not be tolerated. A new positive and empathetic behaviour needs to be put in place which is even more important to guide the child forward. The child will otherwise revert back to the inappropriate behaviour because that is all they know.
4. Consistency is the key! It will take at least 3-4 weeks of energy put in from everyone around to make it clear to the child that the inappropriate behaviour is not okay, and to switch to new ways of bringing in the positive behaviour to replace it with. Even then, it's a lifetime routine so it's only a struggle at first and after a little time, it becomes a new habit which sticks.