Challenges Vs Gifts – Discipline in Young Children

bodhana-2“Challenges Vs. Gifts – Discipline in Young Children” – Uma Ramesh


Every parent would like to hear more about this topic especially imparting the discipline in their young ones almost every day. Most of us often encounter the following challenges during their day to day interaction with their children: “No” for everything, not listening to your words, not sharing and/or being lazy.


While this list goes on, we also want our children to grow up as a fully functional mature individual with some or all of the attributes (we can call these as gifts that we want to give our children) like being self-confident, develop patience, being courteous, love, be loved etc.


Now we have challenges and the gifts in front of us, and we want to move away from the challenges to gifts quickly, or through some means, like someone swish swashing the magic wand, in reality, we always come across tug of war between these two variables. Shouldn’t as parents we spend some time and effort to solve this equation?  They are so contrasting in nature that we give up one for the other or we conveniently say that the child would pick up by himself as he grows, thereby pushing out the responsibility to time than owning the problem.


Here comes the big question that stares in front of us, what is that we should do to transform the challenges into gifts so that our children become an all-rounder in his/her life.


Before getting into the solutions, we should first understand the current state of mind of our children. There are different planes of development in a child. As they grow their behaviour changes. We should understand that age appropriate behaviours are not misbehaviours; this would give an insight to the parent when dealing with the situations and the reactions.


Birth till Age 2:  They are an extension of you. If you smile they will smile. If you climb stairs they will try to do that. If you shout, they will too try doing that. As parents we know they are not physically ready to do all that we do, but they cannot understand your reasons. So only way out is to distract them from what you don’t want them to do.


Age 2 to 3: They have learnt that they are different from you. They understood their likes and dislikes. They can say a strong NO. But they are not yet there to understand your reasons. This is a difficult phase as they cannot be easily distracted. So the way out here is to entice or influence them.


Age 4 to 6: This is a beautiful phase in their development. Now they can understand the reasons you give them. They can make decisions, give them choices; they will do it for you.


Age 6 to 12: Now they think only about their friends, they are more important than their family members, Friends are the most influential person. So use their friends as an example to get you work done. But it could be a very tricky attempt. You should not go overboard that your child either becomes jealous of his friend or starts builds hatred towards them. Parents should be an honest attempt in making a comparison as a positive example.


Age > 12: By now the foundation would have been built on the values and virtues of life. Handling a teen age is a different issue as they turn rebel if proper foundation is not built and you don’t command respect by then.

In order to bridge the gap between challenges and gifts, first and foremost is to have an eco-system built at home, a conducive environment for the children to be receptive to us, understand that each child is different and unique, you can observe marked difference between siblings/next door child; if you are wondering what that environment could be, you can take cue from the following list; such environments will yield long term solution if you approach them with the right tools:


  • Child should have the sense of belonging and significance at home
  • Mutually respectful rules that are kind and firm. NO is always a NO
  • Involve them in decision making on activities that concern them
  • Make children feel capable by giving them responsibilities


Having established the required eco-system, you are now ready to apply the tools that will be received well and also get into their thinking pattern, attitude and behaviour.  You will be able to impart long term, life-long discipline in your children and see how beautifully they carry themselves both at home as well as in their social circles. However you need to keep in mind the age related behaviour as that is essential in handling the reactions.


  1. Replace WHY with WHAT / HOW


“Why did you do this?” “Why did you go there?”

Such questions will only corner the child and he won’t feel like responding to the question. Though you will make him understand that he shouldn’t have done that but won’t be effective long term. So instead of such WHYs try replacing WHAT and HOWs


“What did you think when you hit your younger brother?” “How could you eat this without sharing with your friend?”


These questions will positively make children think and get your point clear.


  1. Decide what you will do.


You are the role model for your child. Decide on what you will do in a typical situation, it will help you to clearly set rules for your child.


You should talk politely; you should not eat while watching TV, if you expect all this from your child. There cannot be a set of rules for you and another set for them.


  1. Choices


If you want your child to put the toys back, tell him “would you like to put back your toys now or in 5 minutes”. Certainly, he will say “5 minutes”; remind him when 2 minutes are left. Then again remind him when 5 minutes are over. Most children would like to keep up their words. But there could be some children not putting things back at its place. Tell them again “would you like to put back your toys or should i help you put back?” Certainly children will take your help. Help them to put back. Be slow and let the child involve more in putting the things back. We should understand, our aim is not to put back. Our aim is make the child put back. Always give them positive choices.


  1. No two stand between parents


Children are very smart to understand their parents better.  Both the parents should discuss and agree on a common set of rules for their children. If there is a NO from Mom for ice cream, he should not think that he will get a YES from Dad for the same. Ensure consistent communication is maintained all the time.


  1. Let the message of Love get through. This is an important tool of all.


We all are working towards bringing up our child into an amazing, polite, productive and interesting 20 years old. If we don’t do all these steps when they are at 3 year old, then we will end up seeing your child as an arrogant, lazy and unproductive individual at their 20s.


One more important thing that we all should understand is, our job is to be their parent at 3 years and be their friend at 20’s, dual role play is possible only when they reach teens and not earlier.


At 3 years, there can be many instances, when your child will be very unhappy with your firmness on rules. He can even say” I hate you mom”. Don’t worry about all this. You are being a perfect mom. He needs this restriction at this age. You got to be his mom now. Don’t give up on your firmness when you see your child having a sad face. You can be his friend later in his life.


Also understand that rewards and punishments won’t get them to a long term discipline.

If you compliment your child with a chocolate for being courteous with his friend today, he will do that only today. Courtesy won’t get into his behaviour. Also if you punish him for lying you today, he will only repeat the same lie in a similar situation tomorrow.


Talking positively always helps. “Please do” will help more than “please don’t do”


Finally, our children won’t like us being perfect parents. In fact doing mistakes helps sometimes. When we do mistake, let’s feel responsible for it. Let’s accept it, apologise and correct the mistake. This will the best lesson you can give for your child.


Now tell me, shouldn’t the title be “Discipline in parents” instead of “Discipline in young Children”??!!!


Happy Parenting



  1. Very nice article.. Beautifully explained facts.

  2. Very nice article Uma. Beautifully explained all the points which is going to help me. Thanks to your effort.

  3. Wonderful Article. This clearly explains in simple terms how afe wise response from parents helps in childs behaviour and emotional intelligence. Would like to read more on teenage handling too…:)

  4. Very beautifully explained about kids psychology and how positively v should take them. Hats off to u r start up article wish u good luck. Hope it vl help parenting

  5. Beautiful article.
    keep going Uma. Wish u all the best.

  6. Can’t agree more…


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