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iVillage.com: Discipline Mistakes Even Smart Parents Make

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Forgetting Your Child's Developmental Age

Before you discipline your child, consider her age. When your baby spills her food, for example, you don't expect her to clean it up. When your toddler dumps his cereal and then flatly denies it, he's only lying because he wants to please you because he sees you're not smiling. And if your preschooler dumps his broccoli on the floor? Well, you know the answer there. (Power struggle anyone?) So what works for an older child may not work for a younger one. Keep these guidelines from Johns Hopkins Medicine in mind before disciplining your child.

Infants and Toddlers: At this age, safety is the main concern -- children this age will respond to your loudly saying "no." After doing so, always offer a safer, acceptable alternative. (So if your child is about to touch the stove, shout "no," and then steer him in the direction of a toy.) Try to praise good behavior and ignore bad behavior, such as temper tantrums.

Preschoolers: Consistency is key, so make sure your rules are clear and stick with them. Also, allow enough time for transitions from activity to activity. Preschoolers might need you to explain in detail why they need to behave a certain way and what will happen if they don't.

School-aged Children: Children this age need the above rules, but parents should also give them the opportunity to share their side of the story. Always offer choices and let your child help you figure out ways to handle any behavioral problems.

(CREDIT: angela auclair/Flickr/Getty)
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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