Discipline - Loving Guidance

Hedda SharapanWhen I was presenting our workshop “Helping Children Learn Discipline” last summer at the National Family Child Care Conference, someone asked, “What if we’re dealing with toddlers?” I had to stop and think. Most of our focus in this workshop is on preschoolers, and our stories and videos are about three and four year olds. Then I remembered a great moment I saw between a toddler and a parent – and knew I had a story to tell. Anyone who’s been to my presentations knows that I love stories!

Here’s what I saw: The 14-month-old toddler was sitting in her highchair. Her father saw her sweep her hands wildly, throwing the bits of food off the highchair tray. Maybe it was her only way to communicate “I’m finished – and I want down now.”

Trying to discipline her, her father called across the table in a loud voice, “Stop it. Calm down!“ That made her wilder! I held my breath, wondering what’s next. Then I saw him get up out of his chair, walk right over to her and bend down face to face. Lovingly, he cupped his hands around her face and firmly, but in a calm and quiet voice, slowly said, “Calm…down…..Calm….down.” And she did. What’s in that communication that helped her?

  • He stayed calm.
  • He communicated that he was serious.
  • He was strengthening their relationship.
  • A Video from Child Care

The video from our "Helping Children Learn Discipline” workshop that shows a teacher working in much the same way with an older child, a preschooler who has trouble at transition times. Without help, he often ends up in conflicts. Watch how the teacher helps him learn how to clean up after lunch before playing. Watch for all the ways she is helping him learn self-discipline.

The video is also a great example of “lending a child our adult controls.” Did you sense how calm and focused she stayed?

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