In my practice as a Parenting and Wellness Consultant – I find most parents extremely concerned about discipline.
Every parent wants a disciplined child, but most parents are confused about what it really means to discipline. Do I need to punish my child to discipline him? How can I discipline my child? are questions parents commonly ask
What is Discipline?
Discipline is not equivalent to punishment.
When we discipline – we teach. We teach a child the rules of living in the adult world.
Why is it so difficult to discipline children?
It is important for us to understand that the rules of the adult world don not make much sense to children. The rules they are expected to follow have been made by people who are at least 20 years older than them in age and several light years apart in experience, reasoning ability and the capacity for self-control.
Children have a completely different idea of the world from their parents.
No child for example is born knowing that he/she should not write on walls. It is their natural instinct to want to express themselves artistically on walls – the way cave men did! It is up to the parents to show them where else they can express themselves artistically and praise them when they do so – if they want them not to write on their walls.
What can make implementing Discipline easier?
It is important to communicate the rules of the world – to children in a way that makes sense to their level of understanding.
Children who understand why they are doing things a certain way – grow up to believe that they are in control and are masters of their own fate. They feel competent and grow up to be socially well adjusted adults.
Everything that children understand about the adult world and its rules – depends on the words, we as parents use to explain and enforce these rules.
It is vital for parents to hone their communication skills and polish their discipline vocabulary
5 ways to communicate for effective loving discipline
Watch the video Mind your parenting language
1. Negotiate with the word “when” instead of “if”
Life without negotiations and contracts is impossible.
But when you say “If you do X then you get Y” – it immediately leads the child to question “What if I don’t do X?
Replacing “if” with “when” automatically tags the task with a reward and motivates positive behaviour
2. Always praise or correct the “behavior” and not the child
It is important to keep the child’s behavior separate from him.
Always emphasize that children are always good. It is their behavior that is sometimes good or bad.
And that the purpose of discipline is – to change the behavior to make it better
Watch the video Bad boy? Bad girl? Are you sure?
3. When you scold explain the reason and provide an alternative
Every scolding should have three parts.
A command to stop the bad behavior. A reason why the behaviour must stop. And an alternative to the bad behaviour.
For example “Stop hitting. When you hit you hurt your friend. Ask your friend nicely for the toy”.
When we ask children to stop doing something without telling them why and without telling them what they should do instead – they don’t learn anything.
Watch the video Scolding your child? Make it effective
4. Every rule must be made while stating the outcome and consequences
A rule about clearing the table should be made like this.
“When you finish eating you must take your plate to the kitchen and put it in the basin to wash. If you don’t do that it attracts flies. Remember to pick up your plate immediately and you will not have to clean the whole table before your evening snack”
5. Motivate by encouraging competition with the clock to reduce conflict
All children like to win. It motivates them to do things and do them faster.
Setting a timer and asking children to race the timer and get a task done before the timer rings – is an effective way to enforce discipline without a power struggle.
Saying “Lets race the clock and finish before the timer rings ” reduces the parent child conflict because it transfers authority to a neutral figure – the timer.
When you discipline your child remember this …..
Through their childhood – children evolve from immobile horizontal beings who only have “needs” – into walking talking individuals who have “wants” in addition to “needs”.
As we enforce discipline we must remember to be larger and not just bigger and stronger. We must remember – that while we are in positions of power and can make the rules – we are not dealing with puppets. We are dealing with little people who have their own needs, desires and feelings which they are still not able to express adequately. And we must behave accordingly.