How to Say "No"

When it comes to disciplining children, parents have to put their foot down early and often. "The First Time You Say NO" is the topic of an article in the April edition of American Baby Magazine. Kate Kelly, Managing Editor, offers some tips on when and how to discipline your child.

Discipline starts in babyhood, though you obviously have to tailor your approach to your child's developmental age and stage. At age 8 to 12 months, it's the right time to start setting limits. Kids can get into all kinds of no-nos, like electrical cords and rolls of toilet paper.

At this age, discipline is about damage control and distracting. Babyproof your home so he has a safe place to explore. Move breakable items out of his reach. If he's heading toward trouble, distract him with a toy, or pick him up and move him away. Also, don't expect your child to remember you've told him 10 times already he can't play with the remote.

At 12 to 24 months, expect tantrums. This is the age of frustration. You shouldn't dole out harsh discipline or cave in. For some kids, ignoring works, while others may need a distraction or a hug. But you need to remain calm. It helps your child to calm down if you are calm.

This is also the age where toddlers can start to understand rules. If they hit you when they don't get their way, you can say "we don't hit, it hurts." Also, it's a good idea to limit how often you use the word "no." If you use it too much, kids will tend to tune you out. Instead of saying, "No we can't go to the park now" say "We can go to the park after lunch."

And finally, at 24 to 36 months, kids are entering the world of play-dates and preschool. Sharing becomes the biggest challenge, but they are starting to understand cause and effect. Saying "grabbing crayons isn't nice," will mean something.

As a parent your should avoid long explanations to why your child shouldn't do something. Get straight to the point. And an easy way to avoid sharing disputes is to have doubles of popular toys. Or if you only have one toy, it's best to put it away so no one can fight over it.

For more on this, and other parenting tips, visit American Baby.
by Kate Kelly and Jenn Eaker