Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Discipline as Teaching

Discipline is often a very hard thing for parents, regardless of the child's age.  It is hard to tell young children "no" when they turn around and look at you with such a sad face, or when they do something that they're not supposed to but it's just so cute!  As children get older, discipline changes as children become more defiant, and test the boundaries that you give them.  Other children seem to be unaffected by timeouts, or other consequences given for their actions.  How can we effectively discipline our children?

My Nephew
Here are a few tips that can help:

  1. Discipline means to teach - Discipline shouldn't be about punishment; rather, it is about teaching children what the correct behavior is, so that they can learn how they should behave.
  2. Setting limits is essential - While it is hard to set limits, especially when we want kids to be able to learn and explore their environment and be kids, it is important for children to have limits.  Children want structure and stability, and want to know what the limits are, so they know how they fit into the world.
  3. Good discipline is not an over-reaction, or response to anger - Sometimes it's really hard to not yell or over-react to kids when they make a mess, or break things.  Disciplining in anger is not as effective.  Accept that as a parent, sometime you need a timeout too, to calm down and relax so that you can see things clearly.
  4. Be consistent - Consistency is hard, especially when it's at the end of a long day or week, and we are feeling stressed.  Often, those are the times that kids will push the most, and so it's the most important time to be consistent.
  5. Photo Credit
  6. Pick your battles - This goes along with consistency.  Sometimes it seems that all we do is tell our kids "no! Don't! Stop! Don't touch!" etc.  If we find ourselves doing this, and are having a hard time being consistent, we should take a step back and look at what we are telling them not to do.  Sometimes we might have to let some rules go, so that we can enforce the ones that matter most for the safety and well-being of our children.
  7. Show love - When kids feel like they did something wrong, and are being punished, it is easy for them to think that we don't love them.  Letting them know that we still love them, and explaining our reasoning behind disciplining them, will help them to feel secure, and give us a chance to strengthen our bond with them as well.
These are just a few of the many tips to make discipline more effective.  What are some ways that you have found to make discipline effective in your home?

Sources: "10 Basic Points of Good Discipline" Copyright Center for Children and Families in the Justice System, 2004
"Power Struggles" Mountainland, Utah Valley University,
"Discipline and Limit-Setting from Birth to 24 Months" Copyright Zero to Three, 2009

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