Your school-age child is capable of taking an active role in setting the rules for your home and family as well as the appropriate consequences for when he breaks those rules. Involving your child in this process will make him more likely to respect the rules. Hitting and/or yelling at your child are not effective discipline techniques. These actions teach him that violence and yelling are an appropriate response to anger or frustration.
Tips for effectively disciplining your school-age child
• Be sure “no” is not the word your child hears most often. Positive reinforcement is important. Praise your child for good behavior so he does not see misbehavior as the only way to get your attention. Your child can be sensitive to criticism, making this kind of praise a perfect way to bolster his self-esteem.
• Remember tantrums still happen. Try to remain calm; if you react to these tantrums your child will see them as a way to get attention. Take a deep breath and calmly tell your child that when he is ready to talk about how he feels, you are ready to listen.
• Empty threats are dangerous. It is easy to become angry and make unrealistic threats of punishment, like “If that fighting does not stop we are never going on another car trip!” Threats on which you cannot follow through, especially those with the word “never,” will weaken the power of the realistic consequences you may use in the future.
• Manage discipline. Your child may feel like he has little control and believes that the way to gain power is to misbehave. Constant discipline will only fuel that belief, instead, focus on giving your child positive attention when they are doing something good. This will show him that he can gain power and your attention this way, too!
• Involve your child with choices. Sometimes the way to deal with a child who may feel like he does not have any control is to involve him in the process. Offer him an “either/or” choice so he feels he had some say in the matter. Remember a child should not always have choices. You need to decide when this is appropriate (e.g. battle over what to have for lunch, not whether or not a seatbelt needs to be worn), and make sure that you can live with either choice.