How to Establish Age Appropriate Discipline Techniques

Create age appropriate rules for your child.
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While a quick time-out might be effective at age 5, by the time your child turns 10, you're going to need some new discipline strategies. In order for discipline strategies to be effective, they need to match your child's developmental needs. 

Age appropriate discipline techniques not only curb misbehavior, but they also ensure that your child is learning the skills he needs to become a responsible adult.

It's important to find age appropriate discipline strategies that will meet your child's needs and aid his development.

Learn About Your Child’s Development

A lack of child development knowledge can be a big problem for both the parents as well as the child. Parents who expect their 2-year-old to sit quietly in an adult restaurant will grow frustrated when their child isn't able to do so.

Consequently, they may try to punish their child if he bangs on the table or tries to get out of his seat. But, the child's behavior might be developmentally appropriate and punishment may only make things worse.

So it's important to educate yourself about what to expect at each state of your child's development. This can help you develop reasonable expectations. 

When you learn what to expect from your child, you can establish age appropriate rules that will set your child up for success. For example, an age appropriate bedtime and age appropriate chores will ensure your child is learning and growing in a way that will help him be his best.

As he grows and matures, you should adjust your expectations accordingly.  

It's important to keep in mind, however, that kids develop at different rates. Not all 3-year-olds are toilet trained and not all 16-year-olds are responsible enough to drive.

So in addition to your child's chronological age, keep his maturity level in mind too.

His emotional development and social development might not match his chronological age and you should adjust your expectations accordingly. 

Different Rules for Different Children

It’s healthy to have different rules for different children. For example, your 14-year-old doesn’t need to go to bed at 7 p.m. just because your 6-year-old does. 

So while you'll want to have some household rules that everyone follows, you should also have age appropriate rules for each child.

Anticipate protests from younger children who think the rules aren't fair. It’s normal for a younger child to want to be like older siblings. It’s important to remind them that when they are older, they will gain more privileges as well.

Adjust Your Rules and Discipline Techniques as Your Child Grows

As your child grows and develops, discipline needs will change. While time-out may work well when he's younger, sending your child to his room as a teenager may seem more like a reward, than a punishment. 

Take cues from your child about discipline techniques. If you take away his favorite toy when he hits his brother, but he continues hitting his brother anyway, your consequences aren't working. You may need to find another negative consequence that will be more effective.

Re-examine the rules you have for your child periodically as well. For example, if last summer you let him ride his bicycle in the driveway, this year he may be ready to ride it on the sidewalk.

Just make sure you clearly explain any changes to the rules and ensure your child has a clear understanding of the rules before you start implementing them.

Strategies That Can Work at Any Age

There are some discipline techniques that can work for children at any age. But they may need to be adjusted to meet your child's specific needs:

  • Positive reinforcement - Reward your child's good behavior, like working hard on her homework assignments or getting her chores done on time. Young children respond well to sticker charts while teenagers may do best with a token economy system. No matter how old your child is, it’s important to give children extra incentives when they are doing well.
  • Praise - Praising young children can be encourages them to keep up the good work. And praise for older children reminds them that they're on the right track.
  • Positive attention - Spend quality one on one time with your kids, no matter their ages. Building a positive relationship increases their desire to listen to your instructions and it reduces their attempts to act out to attract your attention.
  • Logical consequencesMatch the consequences to your child's misbehavior. If he rides his bike outside the boundaries, take away his bicycle. If you catch him using his phone in the middle of the night, take his phone away. 

Sources

American Psychological Association: Positive Discipline By Age

HealthyChildren.org: Disciplining Your Child