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Here’s what every parent needs to know about preschool discipline

Team StoryWeavers|June 21, 2022, 17:18 IST|

“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”

Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

Disciplining children is one of the key tasks that parents are expected to perform. Effective positive disciplining helps children understand what to do and what not to do. Most parents are aware of this and put in significant effort to raise self-disciplined adults. 

However, creating a disciplining strategy that works for you and your child can be very stressful for some parents. That’s why, today, we are going to explore the golden rules of preschool discipline. 

Things to remember about preschool discipline

A book published by Oxford University Press in 1997, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, by Steven Shelov, mentions a few rules of preschool discipline that can help parents formulate effective strategies. Steven Shelov, MD, MS, is founding Dean and a professor of paediatrics at NYU Long Island School of Medicine. His rules are as follows:

  • Do remember that praise is an excellent disciplining strategy. Congratulating your child for choosing the right course of action will strengthen their behaviour as your child feels good about the compliments received. Parents can say things like — very good, excellent, super, well done, etc. 
  • Check if the rules and regulations set by you are impairing the child’s need for independence. Setting age-appropriate rules that guide the child to behave in a socially responsible manner without being overbearing. Overly restrictive rules will lead to your child not wanting to try out new things and experiences. For example: Parents cannot expect a two-year old to sit still and not touch things that they like while in the supermarket.
  • Just like the expectations, do ensure that the consequences of difficult behaviour are also age-appropriate. For example: Parents cannot expect a two-year-old to be in ‘time-out’ for more than 5 minutes at most. You can try to keep this discussion simple and practical. 
  • Children thrive on consistency. Avoid changing the rules and consequences randomly. Take time out to explain the new family rules to the child so that the child does not get confused. It is natural to expect more and more mature behaviour as the child grows up yet it is critical that parents explain this change to the child and prepare the child for these changes. 
  • Remember to keep a united front while dealing with the child. If the adults in the household do not agree with the rules, boundaries, limits, or consequences, it may encourage the child to play adults against one another and eventually escape the consequences. 

Do remember that you are your child’s role model and the child will try to copy your behaviour sooner or later. Being level-headed and fair in your disciplining approach will help you gain your child’s trust and respect. Be consistent and keep in mind that the purpose of discipline is to teach. 

Did you find this article helpful? Do share your thoughts about preschool discipline in the comment section below. 


Shelov, S. P. (1997). Caring for Your Baby and Young Child. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 

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About the Author

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!

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