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Parenting quiz: Discipline dos and don'ts

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At what age is it alright to smack a child?

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At what age is it alright to smack a child?

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Smacking may stop your child from doing something bad right now, but it won't teach him how to behave in the long run. Research suggests that children who are smacked are more likely to get depressed and have anger problems later on in life.

 

There have been calls for a complete ban on smacking in Britain. However, UK law does allow parents "reasonable chastisement" of a child, provided it doesn't leave a mark or bruise.

 

However, there are good alternatives when your child tests your limits. Try giving him a time-out, or temporarily take away a privilege or valued toy. For a toddler, clap loudly to get his attention. Then tell him off firmly saying, "No throw!" or, "No bite!"

 

Offer rewards when your child behaves well. Praise him, give him his favourite food for tea, or just give him a hug and some extra attention.

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What is a good way to be strict?

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What is a good way to be strict?

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Good discipline means you are clear about boundaries and what you expect from your child. It also means she understands what happens if she doesn't follow the rules. Think about your child's age and how mature she is when you're setting limits.

 

Be consistent. Once your child understands the rules and knows what will happen if they're broken, follow through with the expected results.

 

It's alright to be strict, but you should also let your child negotiate with you when appropriate. It helps build her social skills.

If your child has ADHD, you should:

If your child has ADHD, you should:

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  • Correct Answer:

Children with ADHD need to know exactly what parents expect of them, and what happens when they don’t do it. Set clear boundaries, be specific and stay positive.

 

Charts are really useful, as they are a visual way to keep tabs on how well a child is doing and to reward good behaviour.

 

Most children worry about being embarrassed in front of their friends. However, a child with ADHD is more likely to get defensive and defy you if you show her up in public. So, if your child has ADHD, discipline might work better if you do it in private.

Your toddler hits his brother and grabs a toy. You should separate them, and:

Your toddler hits his brother and grabs a toy. You should separate them, and:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

First, separate the children, take the toy and comfort the hurt child. Stop the fighting and act right away so that you don't reward the child with what he wants. Take the aggressive child out of the situation and talk to him: "No hit. Hitting hurts," so that he learns to think about other people's feelings.

 

Sometimes frequent hitting or biting might be a sign of other problems such as sadness, anger, seeing violence first hand or on TV, or being abused. If it keeps happening, seek advice from your GP or health visitor.

It’s alright to take something away if your child misbehaves.

It’s alright to take something away if your child misbehaves.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Removing something that your little one values when he misbehaves is a way to teach him about consequences. It's best if the object is related to what he did wrong. For example, "You can't play with your toy today because you hit someone with it." However, taking away something your child truly needs, such as food or drink, is not fair or acceptable.

 

For children under six, don't wait too long to take away something, or they might not grasp how their actions and the consequences are linked. In other words, don't stop him watching TV after tea if he was acting up at breakfast time.

How long should "time-out" last?

How long should "time-out" last?

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Most experts say a minute for every year of a child’s age is fair (so, a four year old would get four minutes). Many parents send children into time out because it quickly shifts attention away from the problem behaviour.

 

Pick a boring but safe, non-scary spot, like a chair. Supernanny Jo Frost famously suggests the 'naughty step' where she says a child can reflect on what they have done wrong. When time’s up, chat briefly about why your child was put in time-out, then move on. Don’t linger.

 

Time-out works best for ages two to five but you can still send children up to age 11 or 12 to calm down if it helps.

Handle misbehaviour in public by:

Handle misbehaviour in public by:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Don't wait for things to go wrong in public. Talk to your child at home about how she should behave when she's out with you. Be fair about what she can handle.

 

If you need to discipline when you’re out, smacking or yelling embarrasses everyone and it doesn’t work. Try a time-out on a park bench, or take away a privilege: "I suppose we're not going to stop at the pet shop today."

 

If you can't respond on the spot, tell her you will deal with it at home. Then move on and focus on the present.

You're annoyed because your 4-year-old is acting up. You should still discipline her right away.

You're annoyed because your 4-year-old is acting up. You should still discipline her right away.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Generally it's good to act as quickly as possible to correct your child. But if you're angry, pause and clear your head before turning to discipline. Take a deep breath. If possible, step away for a few minutes.

 

Also, think about what's making you cross. Are you taking the behaviour personally? Did something else happen today that upset you? If your anger is not about your child, it can confuse and scare him into not talking to you about important things.

When your 5-year-old makes up a story, you should play along with it.

When your 5-year-old makes up a story, you should play along with it.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

It's normal for children around the age of four or five to make up stories for fun, so you can usually just go along with it. Children at this age tend to go back and forth between what's real and fantasy.

 

However, sometimes they might lie to conceal something. If so, discuss the importance of being honest.

 

For older children who know the difference between lying and truth, repeated lying may mean something is upsetting her. Discuss if there's a better way to respond. Use examples from books and the news to discuss issues about telling the truth.

Your 3-year-old has a meltdown at the shops, kicking and screaming. You should not:

Your 3-year-old has a meltdown at the shops, kicking and screaming. You should not:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Shouting back or telling your child off during a temper tantrum doesn't work. Instead, calmly tell your child you understand his feelings and try to find out what's wrong. He may be tired or hungry. You might also try to distract him by pointing out something of interest, such as a toy or a pet.

 

If he won't settle down, go home. If you can't leave, don't give in to any demands or he'll think the tantrum worked.

 

Try to prevent a tantrum starting by avoiding triggers. Be prepared when you're out shopping – keep trips brief and try to avoid the shops close to nap time.

 

Even older children and teens throw tantrums – they argue, talk back or storm off. Try to respond with the same calmness as with a younger child.

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