Managing an Infraction

by Dr. Kyle Pruett, Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member
A mother talking to her son while holding his hands

As a parent or caregiver, managing misbehavior in your small child can be a challenging experience. Whether it's minor or a more serious offense, it's important to approach the situation with patience, understanding and effective discipline techniques. Here are some helpful tips for managing an infraction in your little one and promoting positive behavior going forward. 

Keep it short and simple. About six to eight words is the upper limit here, and don’t repeat it endlessly, as it means less every time you say it. 

Move in sooner rather than later. As the excitement of the act itself starts to take over and the child can no longer hear what she might have heard a minute or two before. Don’t give more than two warnings before you move in to resolve the situation. 

Label the child’s feeling or wish. “I know it’s so hard to wait,” or “That made you so angry.” 

Follow with what you expect. “We don’t hurt people here,” or “Screaming won’t help me know what you need,” or “I will help you calm down.” 

Conclude with a solution, joint when possible. “Is book time a good idea?” or “Would ‘lovey’ help you settle down?” or “How can we fix this?” 

Always remember to count to 10. It actually works. 

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