An ounce of prevention goes a long way when caring for children at home or in child care.

Effective discipline begins when a child is born…not after problems pop up. In order to prevent problems, parents and teachers need to examine their own behavior first; then look at the environment, review how they schedule activities, and finally establish simple rules.

Children watch our behaviors and react to them the same way we do. If we yell, they yell. If we strike out, they hit and push. If we use our words to tell others we are angry and share our love and kindness by being courteous, we are establishing a foundation for good behavior the day the child is born. As they grow preparing a safe environment where dangerous objects are not present removes the temptation for them to make the wrong choice. Providing age-appropriate toys on open shelves where children can reach them also empowers children to make good choices.

Scheduling events around children avoids problems when children become bored or feel rushed. Preparing children in advance when changing from one activity to another gives them time to complete and store a project, clean up, and feel ready to move on to another activity. Keeping children occupied with quick, playful activities like interactive songs, and letter and number games intentionally teaches language, literacy, math and science. A final tip…being fair and consistent with simple rules prevents outbursts, frustration, and strong feelings of resentment.

Preventing problems before they occur…the first step toward raising children who share and cooperate, are able to handle anger, are more self-disciplined and feel successful and in control of themselves.