Guiding Children's Behavior
We first find Little Honey not making good choices in The Icing Story. She is entrusted to keep an eye on Angel’s birthday cake, lovingly made by Angel and Mommy. Little Honey wants to do the right thing but finds the icing on the cake irresistible and ruins the cake, not once, but twice, as her finger seems to find a life of its own.
Our story shows Mommy's growing frustration with Little Honey. However, in The Icing Story Mommy also gives Little Honey the space she needs to admit to her mistake. It’s not until after Little Honey reflects on what she did that Mommy lets Little Honey know that she is still loved even though everyone knew about the error in judgment.
This is one way to provide guidance and support rather than punishment as a child works through what they did. Making mistakes is quite normal for children and allowing children to learn from their mistakes can support their personal growth including increasing resilience. Letting children learn from their mistakes can also help them acquire essential social and emotional tools for success.
There are other ways that a mischievous child can be made more cognizant of their errors. Determining the best way to discipline children can be one of the greatest challenges that parents face. Part of the reason for this is because discipline is very individual. For a disciplinary measure to be effective it must be taken seriously by the child. For example, one common method of disciplining children is the use of timeout. Some children feel the impact of a timeout but others may actually enjoy the peace and quiet of a timeout.
A favorite childhood book of ours, Tootle, features a train that has left the tracks and is unwilling to return to the tracks because the meadow is such a nice place to be. Tootle’s teacher, Bill, sets up red flags in the meadow and a green flag on the tracks to guide Tootle back on the track. The use of the flags was the right disciplinary action to guide the train. Feel free to share any experiences you have had in takings disciplinary action that has provided guidance to a young child.