This month we will discuss another factor in disciplining young children. There are various factors to take into consideration when talking about discipline for young children. One crucial factor is the role of consistency. Every adult who interacts with children plays a role in their social, emotional and learning journey.

Consistency plays an essential role in children developing trusting relationships with adults. One example is that of the father and mother discussing and coming to an agreement about when and how they will discipline and with what method. 

An example of this would be children who can talk back or be disrespectful when visiting grandparents, an aunt’s or uncle‘s house but get in trouble when they do the same to other adults like their teachers. Are we sending mixed inconsistent messages to children when expectations are not the same from every adult? When I was growing up, we knew that the way we spoke to our teacher was to be with the same respect given to our mother. If not, there was a consequence. 

Another area that guidance should be consistent is between the pre-school and parents. Dr. Bernard Arons, a noted psychiatrist, stated, “A child learns how to approach the world by observing the behavior and values of the people around him. The more consistent the message he gets, the more stable he feels. Without consistency, kids have a hard time controlling themselves. Consistency between parents and caregivers is very important.” 

Some of the childcare providers, pre-school teachers and directors I spoke with when I researched to pen “A Discipline Guide for Child Care Providers” shared the frustration they perceived as not having enough support from the children’s parents with discipline issues. They shared that most parents seemed to be at a loss as to how to correct undesirable disruptive behavior when it happens at home and that parents often look to them for advice and answers.  

I suggested the possibility that the discipline strategies used in the pre-school could become consistent with the procedures recommended for parenting. For example, there are four recognized parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved (learn more

Researchers revealed that children have a positive response to the authoritative parenting style and have a higher possibility of becoming responsible adults who are comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas. I suggested that in collaboration with parents, the pre-school could incorporate the authoritative parenting approach into the school’s discipline policies and procedures. Training for parents and teachers on the school’s policies and procedures is beneficial before and during implementation.

Let’s continue the discussions as I share topics about young children and their journeys form birth to school-age.
After you read the columns you may ask me questions or you may request topics for me to cover in up coming columns in the Recorder.