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“He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24)

“Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)

So sayeth the Bible, but, this is a baby magazine, not a church sermon, so we’re not going to preach to you about the virtues of the ‘rod’. In fact we would not heavily recommend it, especially if your child is too young to understand what he is doing.

The fact is we’ve come a long way since biblical times. There’s more than one way to discipline a child. The key, as with the most things in life, is to understand what the other party (your child) really wants and find the right way to go about getting it.

Boys behavingly badly

Girls too, can behave badly. These are common child behaviourial problems: temper tantrums, refusal to follow instructions, fighting with other kids or their siblings, and in the worst case scenario, bullying of other children, a behaviour that can manifest in pre-schooling children as young as four years old. Here are some tips to rein your child in.

Do not fight in front of your child.
First off, don’t do that. Like a wily negotiator, your child is aware of any differences between you and your spouse. She is also likely to be aware that she is the subject of your discontent, and may feel anxiety from the negative sentiments you are sharing with your spouse. This leads to more attention-getting antics in order to shore up her insecurities. Be firm in front of your child, and take your parental disputes about her backstage.

Time outs

A child is not yet a skilled negotiator for what he or she wants, and has poor control over her emotions. Additionally, she tires easily, which leads to even more grouchiness and loss of control.

When she throws a temper tanrum, send her to her room or some other safe place (it can be a corner) where she can withdraw (and rest) from the stimulus that is causing her misbehaviour. Tell her why you are doing this, too. Don’t make it too long because the child will simply start self-entertaining and forget why he or she is being punished in the first place.

Abuse it, lose it.

Reward frequently for good behaviour, and just as quickly, punish them for bad behaviour. This allows your child to establish a value system in which they associate bad feelings with disruptive behaviour. However, understand that they will not be capable of reasoning out these in advance, so constant reinforcement is needed.

Be consistent.

They have to understand with 100 percent accuracy what is going to happen when they misbehave. You have to make a commitment that no matter what, everything stops and their isolation is immediate, relevant and short term. You have to interrupt the disruptive behavior every single time with something that they do not value. Once you establish that, the behavior will extinguish.

Misbehaviour in public places

Rather than give in to your child every time, be prepared to drop everything and walk out of the restaurant or wherever the place is. Bring your child with you but leave the rest of the family behind. This amounts to having a time out in a public place and should send the same message.

Running away from you

Toddlers love to run, and they may even turn it into a game. If they run, put them back in the stroller. If you put them on the ground and they take a step, grab them back up and communicate that they cannot get back down until they can stand there.

Excessive crying

It worked when they were babes, right? Now that they can talk, make them understand that if they want something, they must communicate it in words. Don’t let them gain leverage by responding in any manner to their cries. You have to tell them that the conversation will only proceed when they stop crying, and leave no exceptions to
the case.


  • Make sure every person who cares for the child agrees on the rules the child is expected to observe;
  • When a rule is broken, reprimand the child immediately so he understands exactly what he has done wrong
  • Encourage the child to express his feelings through words;
  • If punishment is needed, do not feel guilty and more importantly do not apologise.
  • Lastly, control your own temper.

Remember that telling your child how to behave is important, but demonstrating by example is the most effective way to lead. LWB

Shape up with less sugar | Raising a bilingual child | Born to perform! | The breakfasts of champions | Taming Tiny Terrors!

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