Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Hugs not Handcuffs

4C’s Debbie Bruemmer advocates for discipline, not punishment, when it comes to handling challenging behaviors in children.

My coworker relayed a story to me about a 6-year-old that was handcuffed due to her uncontrollable behavior, and when I went looking for information  I found numerous stories of the same nature in several different states. What are these adults thinking? I thought handcuffs were for hardened criminals.

Then I heard about a child care provider putting a 3-year-old in a “lock-hold” because he didn’t get off a table when she told him to. Thank goodness this happened in front of his mother and she put a stop to it.  While it’s true that children’s behavior isn’t always easy to deal with, we need to rethink these practices.

Young children are always going to test our limits and let’s face it, not every method works for every child. Even in the same family, children have different temperaments and different responses to various discipline techniques.  It kills my older daughter to have her phone taken away even for a few hours, but the younger one could care less about it. Do I send her to her room where she can play Barbies or polish her nails?  No way!

Discipline is not meant to be a way to punish or humiliate your child. It is meant to teach and allow them to learn a lesson,  hopefully gaining self-control over their behavior in the future. You can find parenting advice anywhere: online, from friends, grandparents, pediatricians, from your local resource and referral agency. So what works?  That depends on many factors. 

When it comes to disciplining your child, use T.E.A.C.H. to explore and learn.

  • Tune in to temperament.  Tune in to your child’s uniqueness. Learn to interpret your child’s actions and what sets him or her off.  Is he tired or hungry? Is this behavior telling me my child needs my attention, or asserting his independence? Is she at a developmental stage where such behavior is typical? It’s normal for children with few words in their vocabulary to throw a temper tantrum when frustrated. Give them the words they need to share their feelings.
  • Encourage and praise! Your little one needs your attention and wants to know you love and value them. Catch them being good. Use a firm but calm voice. Redirect with a new activity.
  • Actions speak louder than words. Show your child what is allowed by setting limits rather than telling her ‘no’ all the time. Give her choices. Instead of asking if she’s ready for a bath, ask if she would you like to use the blue or green towel after bath time? Model appropriate  behavior that you would be proud to see in your child. They are watching you!
  • Consequences must be set for each inappropriate behavior. Let your child know ahead of time what you expect and what will occur if your expectation is not met. They will test your limits.  Be consistent. Know your parenting style!  Am I a permissive parent that lets my child do whatever they like?  Am I too busy or tired to set limits with my child? Do I expect perfection?
  • Hugs not handcuffs!  It may seem like a quick fix, but what does it tell your child?

Comments are closed.