- Boundaries – what is ok and what isn’t ok. Be clear on what your boundaries are and focus on applying these consistently as this is how young children learn best.
- Role-model your boundaries to your children – how to be calm, how to use self-control, how to use empathy and compassion, how to be respectful, how to focus – be mindful.
- Before reminding your child of your boundaries, connect to them – use your emotional brain to connect to their emotional brain. Children under 5 are predominantly in their emotional brains and we are all there when we are upset, angry, frustrated or feeling any emotion. When we connect calmly, with empathy and compassion in order to calm a child down, they are then more ready to hear the teaching which requires them to use their newly developing logical brain.
- Under the age of 5, natural consequences are the only age appropriate way to discipline a child – these would only occur after connection and teaching had taken place first. This might include removal of a toy if they are struggling to play with it gently even after you have connected and shown them how to play with it. Both natural and logical consequences are appropriate for children over the age of 5 as their logical brain is now starting to develop – this might mean them having to use their pocket money to pay for something they broke, again this would be after connection and teaching had taken place.
- The key thing when disciplining a child is to ask yourself – ‘What are they struggling with and what do I need to teach them in order to help them stay within the boundary?”. Remaining calm, focusing on helping and teaching them rather than punishment, and accepting that your children will make lots of mistakes and test lots of boundaries helps us to use our logical brain at this time instead of adding our emotions to the situation.
Our next series of Mindfulness Practice workshops for Parents begins in October in Dubai. Please visit our workshops page for more details and information on how to join. I look forward to seeing you there.