Child Discipline and temper tantrums --- It is NOT about spanking!

Child discipline and guidance is an all day, everyday process in a family child care home. You are teaching a child self-control and how to get along with others... Believe me, this can be challenging and frustrating!


You, of course, want to provide effective discipline so that your patience doesn't wear thin- toddlers and preschoolers will definitely give yours a run for its money! I cover the sensitive and important topic of Child Abuse on another page.

gril with arms crossed temper tantrum

Of course there is not just one way to discipline a child. All children are different and what may work for one child's temper tantrums may not work for the next... or one day the method works for the child and the next day forget it!

What can you do? Not one single thing!

Actually, you'll need to have several different methods of discipline for behavioral problems.

What are some of these methods? Lets start with what I will call "Plan A"

  • First of all you'll want to make sure your child care home supports positive discipline with a positive atmosphere for them, where they can learn and follow your rules. I cannot stress the word POSITIVE enough.

    You are their role model and parents will look to you to set a good example.

    These little guys are going to imitate you and what ever you do, they will copy. (It's pretty amazing and funny how you can hear yourself or the child's parents in some of the things they say. I have also heard some things out of their little mouths that I am quite sure that their parents didn't want me or anyone else to hear!)

toddler being scolded for child discipline
  • If you have a routine that is predictable, a child will know what is expected of them. And then you can be prepared for the warning signs that a temper tantrum maybe coming on, or fussiness, or the "tiny whiny time"... usually around snack or lunch time, or nap time.

  • I like to use a lot of praise phrases... like "Wow, what a great job!" "Look at Thomas, he is using his walking feet- that's the way to do it!" Or, "Look how fast Joshua picked up his toys- he sure knows how to do it!" Rather than the negative word NO all of the time. I personally feel it gets over-used and when that happens, IT DOESN'T WORK, the word actually gets worn out! Then we you need it, like when they are playing with the stove, it does not work.

    Kids like to feel good about what they are doing. They like to please you- even the littlest bit of praise goes a long ways. And at the same time, they learn to set good examples for the other kids. (Remember? They are imitators!)


old lady on spanking children

Shirley R Wrong has absolutely no child discipline in her child care at all. She has had to line the walls with rubber as a result of all the tantrums. Her philosophy is "they're just kids"! You can see that the lack of child discipline has taken toll on poor Shirley!

So what happens when these methods of child discipline fail??? (Because more than likely, they will!)

Time for plan B...!

We still want to keep child discipline positive- and that is really hard to do some times!!! There are still going to be fights, temper tantrums, whining, the "MINE!" thing, pushing, jumping on others, biting, grabbing, etc................ AGH!!!!

Remain calm! Take a deep breath!!! and......

gril with temper tantrum
  • See if the kids can work it out, that is as long as none of what I mentioned above happens! Don't over-react. I have found that a lot of the times, no child discipline is needed, and they will stop without you having to intervene. Why stress yourself out when you don't need to???

  • Keep things moving along. If kids don't have anything to do, they get bored and then trouble could begin. If you are making lunch, sing some songs with them as you do so, or tell a story, or give them small jobs to do. Make this part of your routine and they will feel secure in knowing what is expected of them next!

  • Let them know that it is okay to be mad! But at the same time let them know it is not okay to hit or hurt someone.

  • If you notice that a child restrains themselves from hitting or pushing, or hurting another, or grabbing something, let them know that this was good behavior!

child discipline girl on timeout.

  • Redirect. Sometimes other things can be way more interesting if you make them out to be!

  • Choices. "Which toy do you want to play with Mary? The doll with the blue dress or the doll with the pink dress?" (Sometimes it's better to have 2 dolls with the blue dress; However I have had them fight over a doll that has an identical twin but that wasn't the one they wanted!)

  • Time out! Usually my last resort for child discipline!

I have a 3 year old little girl who insists on yanking the toys away from the babies I care for. I have used positive reinforcement with her every day, probably 10 times a day, to help her stop. Many times I will notice her reach forward to grab the toy, then she will stop and retract. But of course this doesn't happen EVERY time, but it is progress. When she still doesn't seem to get the clear and positive message, I will have her take a "time out". She absolutely knows that she is not to yank those toys from the babies, and by having her time out she can take a few minutes to think about it. When her time is up, I talk to her about what she did wrong. Then I will tell her that I still love her, I just don't love what she did. Finally, she needs to tell the baby she is sorry and that she won't take her toy away.

I know that it is very hard to be positive with child discipline, much less think positively at all times! You could put a small reminder on your refrigerator, or get/make a little sign for your wall... It will help with child discipline and prevent some behavioral problems (like temper tantrums) and make your day and the kids' day go that much smoother and happier! boy with fists in tantrum Please keep these suggestions in mind when you set up your policies on child discipline. Be sure to discuss your views with the parents and learn what theirs are. This is very important so you can be on the same page with each other.

Kids need consistency, not only at your home, but in theirs as well. Be mindful of different cultural opinions on behavior. If your views are not compatible, then you should say no to providing care for this family and refer them to another provider, or to your child care resource and referral agency, or simply and politely decline.

During an interview, I have had parents ask me how I felt about spanking children... they wanted me to spank theirs because this was their form of child discipline. I am giving you a heads up! Some may ask you to! See more questions that you need to be on the same page with parents on my Interviewing Parents page.
You CANNOT AND SHOULD NEVER physically punish by spanking children, slapping, or hitting or verbally abusing them. If this is your method, you must not be a child care provider! See Child Abuse. Your goal should be to help promote a child’s self-esteem and teach him/her self-control in a positive way...

Set a good Example!


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