Training doesn't mean or need punishment

There's a real solution to childhood behavior problems, and it does start with you, the grownup.  It doesn't mean you have to put MORE time into figuring out good punishments that fit the crime. You don't even need stickers or rewards. All you need is to teach your child to think for himself. Even at an early age you can help children learn to choose appropriate behaviors. They need your guidance and encouragement far more than they need a lollypop or a time out. A practical example:
--A teacher told me that she had one child who acted out constantly during rug time. She tried time outs, admonishments, promises-- everything seemed to backfire one way or another, and the child seemed to enjoy the negative attention. Worse, other kids noticed he was getting treated differently and some even tried misbehaving themselves.

Our solution? We suggested asking the child to "take care of" a particular stuffed animal during rug time, to make sure the toy "could see" the teacher and "hear" her talk. At the beginning there was some lingering noise & distracting behavior, so we advised the teacher to completely ignore it, no matter how hard it got. She would perform the same ritual at rug time, giving the child the toy, reminding him to care for it and that x or y distraction made it hard for the animal to hear or pay attention. Over a few days the behavior peaked and then ebbed; but most days the child would settle down, and eventually grew into the habit of babysitting the bright green stuffed alligator he named Chewy.

Where did this idea come from? Adler's disciples in the positive discipline camp recommend using responsibility to cure misbehavior. This can be any kind of task, including asking the child to pay attention to how many times you raise your hand while you're talking and let you know at the end of the talk; to cleaning the erasers after class, to helping you change the dates on the calendar board. For parents, it can include holding baby sister's bottle or toy, simple chores like setting the table, or even organizing the pans on the bottom shelf. For very young children just "helping" you pick up a toy and "put it to bed" when playtime is over, can be an excellent way of being appreciated and recognized for cooperation skills and neatness.

Why does it work? Children often misbehave simply because they need to feel they matter. They want to belong, and sometimes choose the wrong method of getting attention and participating in the flow of the day. Offering them a positive way to engage with you, their siblings, or their class gives them ownership of their role within it, and pride in the positive outcomes.

Engaged parents, happy babies

Engaged parents, happy babies