A Smart Start
Does discipline for babies sound Draconian?
If so, you're probably confusing discipline with punishment. But effective discipline is not about punishing; it's about teaching children to manage their behaviors and emotions so they grow into self-reliant, resilient individuals. It begins in infancy, when you gently nudge your baby onto a regular feeding and sleeping schedule. It continues when you later allow her to soothe herself to sleep or to entertain herself for brief periods. It extends into the toddler years, as you encourage her to flex her autonomy within safe limits. And it becomes paramount in the preschool years, as you nurture your child's emerging character and conscience.
"Discipline is the guidance that parents give to their children to help them develop viable social and life skills," observes Jane Nelsen, EdD, a licensed family and child therapist and coauthor of the best-selling Positive Discipline series (Three Rivers Press). If it sounds like a big job, it is -- and one that requires more than that old reliable time-out. Here are eight smart strategies for encouraging the best from your child now and in the years ahead.