The Yes Vote – NZ Referendum on Child Discipline 2009

parenting tips


  • Napping may have a significant influence on young children's daytime functioning, according to a research paper presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. Results indicate that children between the ages of 4 and 5 who did not take daytime naps were reported by their parents to exhibit higher levels of hyperactivity, anxiety and depression than children who continued to nap at this age.

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  • No parent enjoys constantly warning or threatening his or her child, yet many children do seem programmed to drive mum and dad crazy, at least some of the time. So how can parents encourage good behaviours without shouting themselves hoarse?

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  • Take steps to control your own rage:

    • Don't stew over things, distract yourself if you're feeling mad
    • Practise self-control
    • Learn how to connect with people in a safe and respectful way
    • Find positive male and female role models
    • Care for yourself by connecting to things that are meaningful to you like nature, meditation or art

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  • Participate with your child in those activities that bring them pleasure, even if it feels strange to you.

    Joining your child in their world requires an essential parenting skill-imitate and follow. Don't make demands, don't ask them to perform, and don't direct the play. While it may sound simple, it's not!

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  • When the going gets tough, stop the show.

    If you find that your child is misbehaving badly or exhibiting tantrums, say in a public place, then stop whatever programmes that you’ve planned for the day and go home. This can be tough, especially when you have already planned out your day. But if your child is misbehaving, they need to know that there won't be any “exciting” activities for the rest of the day unless they stop their bad behavior.

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  • Love and warmth works wonders with kids.

    Like all of us, kids naturally want to please those who love them. Managing behaviour of children becomes lots less of an issue when the general feel in the home is one of love and warmth.

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  • You can help prevent unacceptable behaviour by making sure you don’t put your child into situations which are likely to trigger it.

    We need to guide our children’s behaviour so they learn what behaviour is appropriate in the different situations they find themselves in—and what behaviour is not appropriate.

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  • Try to understand how your child thinks and feels.

    When you understand how your child thinks and feels at different stages of their development you are much better equipped to respond to challenging situations in a positive and constructive way.

    This knowledge about your child’s development gives you a foundation for problem solving. Instead of simply reacting in the moment, you can think about what your child’s behaviour means, and where it is leading them.

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  • Be deliberate and intentional about the baggage we bring to our children's upbringing.

    As parents we often find ourselves doing the same things to our children as our parents did to us — including things we didn’t like when we were children.

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  • Like all of us, children learn about the world through everyday conversations.

    When we discipline our children, we need to make sure they understand the message.

    Talk to your child as much as you can and listen to what they say to you. Be realistic about what they can and can't do. For example, you can't expect a one year old to eat without making a mess, or a two year old to sit still for a long time.

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  • Set clear expectations for your child's behaviour, and explain why you want them to behave that way.

    By the age of one or two most children can understand more words than they can say. That means they can start to learn from the explanations you give them. All of us can think of times when we have gained someone’s co-operation by providing them with an explanation. Managing children’s behaviour is no different. Explanations tell children what, why, or how. Be clear about what you want your children to do — and what you don’t want them to do.

    Explain to your child how their behaviour affects others, or why you want a request to be followed.

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  • Create a safe learning environment where you can say “yes” more than “no” to your child, so they can explore, learn and develop their curiosity.

    It is important to create a safe "yes" environment for your child so they can explore freely and be curious without hurting themselves or others, or breaking precious things.

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  • Children see, Children do.

    Managing behaviour of kids doesn’t have to be a mystery. Stepping into their shoes and seeing the world from their eyes is often quite revealing. That could mean asking yourself why they might be doing what they’re doing and what your own behaviour is saying to them... Consistency is the key – always behave in the way you want your children to.

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  • Take notice when your child behaves well, and reward them in a small way.

    Much of the time kids misbehave, a large part of it is to attract attention. Try though we will, most of us focus most intensely on our children when they're behaving badly. If we take the time to focus our attention on them when they're not misbehaving then the won't feel the need to be outrageous to get the attention they crave. And when they go out of their way to be nice, be sure to give as much positive reinforcment to them as possible; reward them with praise, a hug, or a small treat in exceptional cases. Result: better behaviour without the need for physical discipline.

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  • Would you like your kids to behave better? Make sure they are getting enough sleep.

    A recent Finnish study of 280 healthy children showed that children who slept the least were the most likely to display the kind of symptoms associated with ADHD. The findings suggest that maintaining adequate sleep schedules among children is likely to be important in preventing behavioural symptoms... even an additional 30 minutes per night has been shown to give a major improvement in behaviour.

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Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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