Each and every parent needs to take full responsibility when it comes to their child’s discipline. Discipline is not the same thing as punishment – you need to keep that in mind. Many parents confuse these two terms on a daily basis, and they believe that the more they punish their children, the more disciplined they will be. The reality is quite the opposite.
If you punish your child all the time, they will feel miserable in the long run. The child will get a bad impression of the act itself, and they may even become unable to realize that their behavior led to such reaction on your side. As a result, your child will most likely repeat the same actions in the future as well.
There are three major advantages that proper discipline can bring:
- Your child will be able to make the difference between good acts and bad acts.
- The child will learn how to respect other people.
- They will also learn to distinguish between right and wrong.
As you can see, “teaching” your child good manners is a crucial process. In general, you can think of discipline as “teaching lessons” to your child. The more the child learns, the more disciplined they will be. However, bear in mind that, just like a real teacher, sometimes you may need to repeat some of these lessons more than once. But, even though it’s a tricky process by default, it will pay off in the long run and, with the right approach, your child will adopt proper discipline sooner rather than later.
The practical showcase
Let’s examine the situation in which the child takes their pencils and scatters them on the floor. It’s a very common situation if you come to think of it.
Now, if you wanted to punish your child, you would typically be very unpleasant to them and send them to their room. I believe we can agree that this kind of reaction is not an ideal one. Instead, if you want to discipline your child, you can tell them that, as a result of their action, the pencils may be broken and the floor may be damaged as well. Make the child pick up the pencils on their own and hide them until the next day.
Even though this act may still feel like some form of punishment, the child will be able to figure out that they did something wrong easily. As a result, they will try to behave differently in the future.
This kind of discipline is ideal for any child that:
- feels confident enough,
- has enough self-control and is able to control their impulses,
- feels safe and loved by their parents and
- is not frustrated by the basic routine of everyday life.
You have a much bigger impact on your child’s discipline than you realize. If you simply punish your child for their mistakes, you can be sure that they will repeat their actions again in the near future. But, if you are patient enough and if you give your best to discipline your child properly, you will teach them the good manners fairly quickly.
Patience is the key
The most important virtue that you need when you are disciplining your child is patience. Introducing discipline is an ongoing process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. No matter how much your child is reluctant to accept your advice, you mustn’t give up. If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t worry – it will work in the future. Keep trying, and your child will thank you one day.
Not only will this kind of discipline make your child a better person tomorrow, but it will create a better impression of them in other people’s eyes as well. And that kind of result is exactly what you should strive for.
The key principles
Don’t be anxious
No matter how irritated you are, you should never yell at your child. You will provoke a completely opposite reaction, and the child may, in fact, repeat the same mistakes in the future as well. You need to stay calm and approach the issue with the right attitude if you want positive results.
Don’t repeat the same commands over and over
Repetition is never good, and you should avoid it at all costs. In general, you should not repeat the same instruction more than once. If your child doesn’t listen the first time, feel free to repeat the instruction and raise your tone a bit (so that it sounds like a warning). If the child is still reluctant, let it go, at least temporarily. If you’re constantly repeating the same things, the child will believe that you are not serious and they will simply ignore you.
Always refer to yourself as “I”
When you are disciplining your child, it’s very important to be direct and to use the “I” instructions as much as you can. For example, instead of saying “You should never do that again,” you should say something like “I want to advise you never to do the same thing again”. This way, you will not make your child feel guilty. instead, it will sound like a piece of advice that your precious one should adopt – which is precisely what you should aim for.
Avoid criticizing your child too much
Make sure that your child receives your instructions in a polite and friendly way. You should certainly criticize your child, but do it politely and don’t go overboard. Otherwise, you will get a counter-productive response.
Don’t praise your child too much either
Just like you shouldn’t criticize your child too much, you shouldn’t go overboard with praising them either. If you praise your child too much, they will think that anything they do is acceptable and they won’t be able to distinguish between good and bad things. So, praise your child when they deserve it, but be cautious.
Establish a proper routine
The evidence that we have so far strongly suggests that children who have an established daily routine respond much better when you try to discipline them, compared to other children who have no such routines. So, you may also want to consider establishing a proper routine before you move on to discipline.
Avoid physical punishments!
No matter what you do, stay away from physical punishments… completely. It’s the worst way to treat a child, and in most countries, you can get penalized for it. So, avoid it altogether.
Set up your own “prize and reward” mechanism
If you set up a classic “prize and reward mechanism” here, the child will know exactly how they should behave in the future. In such a system, there are no punishments at all – if the child shows good behavior, you should award them. If not, there will be no punishments but no rewards either.
We should also point out that rewards and bribes are not the same. Basically, if you are rewarding your child before the task is accomplished, you are, essentially, bribing them. So, in order to avoid this, always reward your child after they deserve it.
Always be a model of proper behavior
If you want your child to see how a well-mannered person should behave, try to act like one yourself. If a parent is able to showcase what kind of discipline the child should strive for, they will be much more willing to adopt it in the near term.
You should never argue with your child
In some cases, you might need to imply a mild punishment. If you can’t avoid it and if the child is against it, don’t argue with them. Do what needs to be done and try to avoid a similar situation happening in the future.
You don’t need to act every time when your child misbehaves
Although we are talking about discipline here, that doesn’t mean that you should react to each and every time your child does something wrong. It’s perfectly natural to tolerate some things but, of course, up to a reasonable degree. If the child misbehaves every now and then, you should certainly react. Otherwise, you can let these minor issues flow naturally, at least, until they grow bigger.
Always pay attention to the environment as well
It’s common knowledge that both parents and the environment play a critical role when it comes to a child’s discipline. Everything your child learns from you can easily become obsolete if they are placed in a bad environment.
As a parent, you should try to create a safe and positive environment for your child. In such a scenario, the child will feel loved and appreciated, and they will adopt proper discipline much more easily.
We know that it’s very hard, but you should always give your best. As we said before, discipline won’t happen overnight but, with enough patience, success will come much faster than you realize.