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Behavior Modification: A Look At Age Appropriate Disciplinary Tactics

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Besides love, affection, attention, caring, and the proper essentials such as a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food in their belly and on the table, children need both freedom and guidance to grow and grow appropriately.

Experts note that in order for children to learn, they require more than just a good example combined with good intentions. They also need discipline which experts agree helps ensure they mature into responsible, conscientious, and dependable adults. Otherwise they risk becoming selfish, greedy, dishonest, unpopular, uncooperative and insecure. Children who are properly disciplined, they note, learn about appropriate social, moral, and ethical standards and acceptable reactions and behaviors. Those that are denied such “love” in the form of rules, regulations and limitations are often disrespectful, destructive, aggressive, with little or no respect for social standards, the law or authority, and may also have difficulty coping with real life and what is a normal part of their later responsibilities and obligations, making them “socially dysfunctional”.

While experts occur that each child is in fact an individual with certain tactics that work and others that don’t, and that each child and circumstance calls for different disciplinary methods based on age and understanding, they all agree on the primary principles and benefits of enforcing appropriate action and behavior.

Professionals concur that age appropriate discipline should be premised on age appropriate capabilities and expectations. Furthermore they outline that some disciplinary methods are acceptable for a variety of age groups (based also on your child’s behavior), while others are clearly not. Here are some of the disciplinary approaches and techniques they qualify as effective:

1. Positive Reinforcement: Taking the focus off your child’s “bad” behavior and target instead their good behavior instead. They note that reminding your child that he or she is “good” with many good qualities and that good children don’t behave in a certain manner. Furthermore, they assert that parental attention is among the most powerful positive reinforcement tools.

2. Redirecting: This approach simply requires your, as the parent, to change or shift your child’s focus from an inappropriate behavior to an appropriate one.

3. Talking and Explaining: Consistently and lovingly repeating appropriate approaches, actions, reactions and behaviors while also explaining frequently explaining the reason behind them helps child establish logic and good judgment.

4. Time Outs: The concept of physically removing you child from a stimulating environment and from the problem situation. However, experts note, that you must not allow them to retreat to a another sensory stimulating situation, but rather to a neutral and mundane area (such as the corner of the room) and ignoring him or her until he or she is able to calm down, apologize, and follow rules. The recommended “time-out” period should be no more than five minutes…one minute of time-out per year based on age.

5. Setting The Standard: Develop a set of acceptable rules, impart them on your child and repeat them as necessary until he or she is able to adhere to and follow them without being reminded.

6. Grounding: Especially impactful on school-age children, teens and tweens. This technique calls for restricting your child from participating in a certain event or social activity and maintaining that they must remain in a specific place (such as their room or the confines of your home) as punishment.

7. Refuse Privileges: Professionals agree that youngsters should be taught that privileges or benefits are all part of being responsible, and need to be earned. They note, that in order for this approach to be effective, it must be used strategically and sparingly. Make certain activities contingent upon certain performance, progress or behavior and be prepared to remove them when criteria are not met.

Now that we’ve identified and familiarized you with a variety of disciplines how will you, as a parent determine which is appropriate for your child and his/her age group. The Following Guideline should be of help.

Birth to 18 Months:

Recommended:

· Positive Reinforcement

· Redirecting

Not Recommended:

· Talking and Explaining

· Time Outs

· Setting The Standard

· Grounding

· Refusing Privileges

18 Months To 3 Years:

Recommended:<

· Positive Reinforcement

· Redirecting

· Talking and Explaining

· Time Outs

Not Recommended:

· Setting The Standard

· Grounding

· Refusing Privileges

4 to 12 Years:

Recommended:

· Positive Reinforcement

· Redirecting

· Talking and Explaining

· Time Outs

· Setting The Standard

· Grounding

· Refusing Privileges

13-16 Years:

Recommended:

· Positive Reinforcement

· Talking and Explaining

· Setting The Standard

· Grounding

· Refusing Privileges

Not Recommended:

· Redirecting

· Time-Outs

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Behavior Modification: A Look At Age Appropriate Disciplinary Tactics

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