Effective discipline of young children requires knowledge about the development of children. Normal toddler behavior is often viewed as ‘misbehavior’ by parents who do not understand the physical, cognitive, social and emotional capabilities and limitations of toddlers. Research shows that children under age five comply (‘listen’) to parent requests about 40 per cent of the time. This is normal child behavior for that age, and does not require ‘teaching,’ ‘discipline’ or ‘punishment.’ This normal behavior will change as the child matures.
This may sound cynical, but bear with me. When someone pays you to help a child, you’re a good psychologist. When you try in vain to help a child, and then the child succeeds in spite - not because - of your help, you’re a good mother. I feel qualified to make this distinction because I’ve been both psychologist and mother.
I often hear parents ask, “When should my baby start walking?” To begin with, “should” is a word that we should outlaw when it comes to babies! The important milestones in a baby’s life - such as walking and talking - occur at completely different times for each baby. Independent walking, like many other milestones, has a wide range of normal.
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