Children are tiny experts in finding ways to push our buttons and try our patience. No parent is to blame for feeling irritated, sad, angry, annoyed, confused and hurt. It is at these times that our parenting skills are truly tested but it is imperative that we maintain a kind, yet firm, stance when it comes to doling out the discipline. And let’s face it – none of us ever want to hurt our child with physical or verbal abuse. We want to each our child that these things are wrong and punishing a misdeed or inappropriate action by yelling or hitting is hypocritical and counter-productive.
Our goal when disciplining our children is to teach them to be responsible, cooperative, kind and respectful. The best way to teach this is to always remain consistent, follow through with the same punishment for the same misdeed, and to discuss the discipline with your child openly and honestly afterwards.
Always keep in mind that the age, maturity level, and temperament of your child should always be considered when enforcing a set disciplinary action. Disciplinary actions should be discussed and understood in advance so that children know what to expect when they have misbehaved and can an opportunity to choose an appropriate action instead. Always ensure your child that it is their negative behaviors and actions that you dislike, not them.
Keep an open mind as a parent and be willing to learn with and from your child. We all make mistakes and it’s important to realize that not every form of discipline works with every child.
Allow yourself a brief “time out” before responding with appropriate discipline. Sometimes we need a cooling off period before dealing with a misbehavior in order to avoid losing our patience, becoming angry or creating further conflict.
Always avoid yelling or hitting.
If you are unsure as to how you can discipline your child in positive ways, here are some tips:
- Eye to eye. Do not try to discipline your child from across the room. Approach them and get eye to eye while you softly and respectfully explain their misbehavior and the consequences.
- Teach your children what they “CAN” do. Instead of constantly telling your child what they cannot do, teach them what they are allowed to do. For example, your child may throw their toy when they are finished playing. Show them how to gently put the toy away and praise this behavior. If you’re child is struggling with what you are trying to teach them, take the time to practice the desired behavior.
- Focus on solutions. Try to avoid placing blame on your child when they behave inappropriately. Instead, involve them in problem-solving a solution to the situation. If they don’t want to get dressed in the morning, ask them why. Perhaps it is because they don’t like the outfit you’ve chosen – work with your child to choose one that they prefer.
- Validate your child’s feelings. Instead of telling your child to stop behaving a certain way, help them to identify the way they feel. Instead of saying, “You need to stop screaming!” try saying, “I know you’re really angry.” Then use the tips above to teach your child what to do instead or have your child help in finding a solution to dealing with their anger. You can have them scream into a pillow instead of out loud or ask them if they would feel better sitting alone for a few minutes.
- Take responsibility. The whole backbone of positive discipline is setting a good example for your children to follow. Children learn a great deal through imitation so it is important that you model respectful behavior. This includes admitting when you have acting inappropriately and apologizing. If you do end up yelling at your children (it happens), make sure you apologize for that action.
Keep an open mind as a parent and be willing to learn with and from your child. We all make mistakes and it’s important to realize that not every form of discipline works with every child. Children are just as unique as adults are, and forms of discipline should be tailored to fit the individual needs of both parent and child. With a little forethought, patience, firmness, love and understanding, the discipline can have a positive outcome for all involved.