Ask the doctor: Disciplining children

Dr. Peily Soong with Children's of Alabama discussed children's health. He discusses behavior and discipline with kids. He recommends:

  • Setting limits with sleeping and eating especially early on as toddlers
  • No spanking
  • Doing timeout correctly
  • Watch for bullying, school issues, home issues
  • Make sure child isn't learning bad habits from adults

When parents tell him no punishment is working for a child and that child doesn't do time out well, he says - timeout should be used in any kid younger than 7 for discipline. 85 percent of parents do time out incorrectly which is why it often times doesn't work. Give no more than one verbal warning before doing time out. Timeout should be done immediately after the misbehavior. The area where timeout is done should be clear of any toys or distractions. Timeout, in general, is 1 minute per age. May need to "bear hug" child if the child won't stay in time out. Do not release the child from time out until the child is calm. Make sure you reinforce why the child was in timeout right after the child is released from time out.

When he heads about a child hitting other kids at preschool, he says to make sure you are not spanking child as punishment. Do timeout immediately with any hitting at home. Talk with teachers at school to make sure no one else is hitting at school and "getting away" with it.

And if you can't get your child to eat foods that you want him/her to eat, Dr. Soong recommends - new parents, start early with having set meal times and introducing different foods. Don't give in to giving junk foods because the child didn't eat anything for dinner. Don't give fluids and snacks throughout the day.

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