Disciplining children is an important part of parenting that helps make sure that you are raising a child who will in the future be a responsible adult. Disciplining also helps a child understand that there are consequences for actions and that at all times he must know right from wrong and always remain fair.
Our generation of parents have strived hard to become ‘friends’ with our children and bridge generation gaps so that we are more aware of what goes on in our children’s lives. In our quest to do so we must not forget that that does not mean we shouldn’t discipline our children and hold them responsible for their misbehaviours and meltdowns. Raising responsible adults is very important, the start to which is discipline.
Disciplining with love is very important so that children do not feel stifled yet know how to live in a society within a framework of rules. Effectively disciplining your child will have great consequences.
Disciplining your child is not the same as handing out a punishment. Neither is it about spanking our child. Essentially, when your child does something wrong – be it something that that may cause him physical danger, behaves badly or does something that can affect him negatively – you would like him to understand that it is wrong or is a mistake and learn from the incident and behave better in the future. Discipline is the process that will make him understand this.
It’s not an easy process and more often than not, they repeat and some days may seem worse than the others. Remember it’s not a stand-off between you and your child or clash against wills.
Here are some tips that can help disciplining your child.
- Discipline according to age – Remember how much your child can understand. When your child is small there’s only so much he can comprehend. Don’t discipline your 2 year old and 5 year old in the same manner.
- Be firm – when you have decided on a course of action, stick to it. So if you’ve decided that your little one gets to watch an hour of TV a day, stick to it. Of course there may be times when you make exceptions to these rules. In which case, point out that this is a bonus and is not the norm and is not to be expected often.
- Be consistent – once you have set the rules, always stick to them. Stick to the same means of discipline. When you constantly change your rules, children find it difficult and confusing to stick to them. Consistency is the key!
- Do not let your child take advantage of you – this is more about setting realistic goals for your child. If you specifically know that there is something that makes your child throw a temper tantrum or act selfishly, do let them push their limits. Instead you should set age appropriate limits for your child. Nap time and bed time are such instances. Do not let your child determine what times these should be. Instead of letting your child stay awake beyond a time his body is not capable of and end up being crotchety, it’s best to set limits and stick to these. It’s terribly unnecessary for you to wait till the point he is throwing a tantrum and get cross over it.
- Do not give in – this is especially true when you are in public and your child throws a tantrum and you are more likely to give in due to embarrassment. So for example if you are in a toy shop or the supermarket (two venues for kids to go absolutely berserk!), stick to your rules. Remember consistency is the key!
- Talk to them and let them know what is expected of them – do not assume that kids instinctively know how to behave. As a part of your parenting – you need to let children know what is okay and what is not. Talk to them and explain. So from everything from why you shouldn’t be selfish and why you should share to other acceptable and non acceptable behaviour, talk to your child. The same goes for discipline that you instil for safety reasons – why it’s important that he doesn’t climb high furniture, play with fire or other dangerous things. Also if you plan on a trip to a super market or a toy store, talk to your child before hand and explain what he can possibly get and what the consequences are of misbehaving.
- Do not be too harsh – do not be too strict when you are disciplining. For example, if your little one is not sharing a toy with a friend or has for the first time pushed a friend (in this case a first time offence) talk to your child kindly, explain the situation and get your child to behave appropriately. Just because your child has behaved in a less than desirable manner in public, do not lose your cool and do not speak harshly to your child.
- Do not parent in a military fashion – remember not to be too rigid and not too say ‘No’ all the time. When you have told your child all the things that he can’t do – let him know of all the things that he can do. So, if you’ve just told your child he can’t watch more than one hour of TV, let him know that he can instead sit with you and play a board game or do a craft.
- Do not bribe – discipline is not a form of bribing. So even though you are allowed to divert your child’s focus productively and in a healthy manner, avoid rewarding him materially. Do not ever entice him to stop negative behaviour by buying him gifts, toys or even a favourite meal.
- Verbally reward your child – Instead of continuously reprimanding him, praise him when he has done something good. Children not only love it when they are praised, they inherently want to please their parents and other meaningful adults. Praise can be one way of making sure that your children constantly behaves positively.
- Give him plenty of attention – if your child is lashing out even after speaking to him and teaching him the negatives of his behaviour, it could be his way of calling out for attention. Spending quality time with your kids is a very important way of making sure that you are raising well behaved children.
Implement time–outs – when your child has done something either by mistake or done something that he has been specifically told not to, make sure that he has a time-out session. Make him sit quietly, without any disturbances and reflect on what he done wrong. Your child needs to clearly understand what he has done wrong and not just take your word on it. Make sure he reflects on it and after his time-out, sit him down and ask him what he understood of his behaviour. In this way, he analyses his actions and his feelings and you too will have a chance of understanding whether he comprehends the situation and consequences.