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This morning I read a column about spanking children and whether this is an appropriate form of discipline in some cases. The columnist basically stated that children who are spanked learn that “hitting” is okay, and they are more likely to use “hitting” or other forms of negative physical contact with others.

Parenting is one of the most difficult roles we have as individuals. We are entrusted with the lives of “little beings” who can frustrate us to no end and leave us almost literally pulling our hair out.

Time outs, although popular and effective with some children, do not seem to work with another group of children who have difficulty staying in their room or in a corner. As small children, especially, experience the world as being connected to their parents, some of them cannot bear the thought of being separated from the parent for what seems to them as a very long period of time.

Another option is a different kind of “discipline”: Keep your child close to you! Tell them that they must remain by your side at all times (until you feel it is okay to let them be on their own again).

This discipline is based on the concept that because the child is misbehaving, then they cannot manage their behaviour on their own and so need the parent’s eyes and ears to ensure that they behave correctly. I know this does not sound like discipline (and it really isn’t).  You are “reining” them back in until you feel they are ready.  And, it actually offers the child reassurance and nurturing rather than punishing (and thus, shaming) the child.

Children, especially at an early age often do not understand cause and effect or consequences of actions. After all, they are just learning how to be.  When they act out or misbehave in some way, they are in need of something. possibly attention or more structure. Discipline at this age is really gentle guidance and redirection.

This “reining-in” is something we do with children all the time. If they venture beyond the boundaries, we bring them back in until we feel they can handle venturing off again.

Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions or comments: dawn@dawnassociates.com