Discipline and children: birth to 12 years

Discipline and your preschooler

Normally by three to four years your child:

  • can understand most of your instructions
  • can predict the results of many actions
  • will begin to share and play with others
  • is easily excited
  • will like to be in control and can be a bit bossy
  • will like to ‘show off’ and be silly
  • copies others
  • finds fun in being shocked and trying out new words, including swear words if they have heard them.

If your child has reached this age feeling that you love and approve of them, they will mostly want to do what pleases you.

If they reach this age feeling you are overpowering, demanding and not ‘on their side’, your child may stop trying to do the things you want, because they may feel they can never please you.

You can help your child by:

  • showing them what you want them to do
  • giving them choices
  • teaching them to think ahead - let them know in advance when a change is coming - eg: at the playground, say ‘We need to leave the playground in five minutes - which swing do you want to play on for the last five minutes?’

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Last updated: 11 March 2016

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