Discipline has to do with civilizing your child so they can live in society. Yet kids repeatedly test their parents’ limits. When it comes to disciplining children, there is no quick fix and no magic bullet.
Here are tips on finding that nice balance between disciplining kids without being a drill sergeant or a pushover.
Reward Good Behavior
When punishment is the centerpiece of discipline, parents tend to overlook their children’s best behaviors. You’ll get a lot further with positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement. Rewarding good deeds targets behaviors you want to develop in your child, not things he shouldn’t be doing.
This doesn’t mean you should give your child chocolate every time he picks up a paperclip. There are grades of positive reinforcement. There’s saying ‘good job. I’m really glad you did that,’ when your child cleans his room. And there are times when your child does something extraordinary that may warrant a larger reward.
Be Clear About Rules
If your rules are vague, or discussed only when one has been broken, your child will have a hard time following them. It’s up to the parent to make clear what’s expected of the child and what isn’t. Be sure to explain the rules of the house when you can speak clearly and your child is not too upset to listen.
How do you deal with a child who wants to argue into submission? Steer clear of no-win arguments.
Instead, go brain dead, if your child says, “This isn’t fair” say, “I know.” If your child says, “All of my friends get to have this,” say, “I know.” Or you can use the phrase, “And what did I say?” to enforce rules you have already discussed with your child. Sometimes the less you say, the more clear your point becomes.
Buy Yourself Time
You may have read that children need to experience the consequences of their actions as soon as possible. And maybe you’ve heard that parents should be calm as they discipline children. In reality, you may not be able keep your cool and react right away.
Buy yourself time to calm down before you deal with the situation.
Be Consistent About Rules
Sometimes sticking to the rules is as challenging for parents as it is for kids. Parents just are not consistent in enforcing rules. If kids don’t know what to expect from their parents, they never really know what the rules are.
Keep in mind that kids benefit from limits. Rules and structure give children the security of knowing their parents are watching out for them. As kids get older, you can take a more flexible approach. Around the ages of 9 and 12, kids should get a little leeway to test out the rules, but always be very careful about safety.
Model Good Behavior
Like it or not, your children are watching you. You can dole out as much advice as you want, but your personal conduct makes a more lasting impression than your words. The number one way human beings learn is through imitation and copy. If you want your child to be honest, make sure you practice honesty. If you want your child to be polite, let her see your best manners, at home and in public.
The fact is, raising disciplined children is not easy. Despite your best efforts, there will always be good days and bad days. As a parent, you’re constantly pushing your own limits. It’s the toughest but the greatest job you will ever have.