How we Discipline our Children

We always talk about behaviors and discipline. Moms and Dads of small children are somewhat puzzled at times. Many parents lean too much in one direction or the other. Balance can be lost with a tendency to go overboard.

There are three types of discipline: authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. Authoritarian: even corporal punishment as the guide to conform to the rules. Permissive: child is allowed to do what they want with no boundaries. Authoritative: Natural consequences to behavior –good or bad.

Some parents feel that if you tell your child “no”, it shows the child they aren’t loved. Young children crave boundaries. They want to feel safe and that someone is guiding them in life. But rules and guidelines can be hard work, and keeping consistency in those guidelines can be exhausting.

Children need to feel that good strong adults are in charge. To a child, wise and fair rules mean they are loved. “Someone is watching out for me”. There is one concept that is very important: Children will only do what you let them do.

Don’t be afraid your child will think you are a little strict, it’s a compliment. Be firm and friendly, and really listen to your child. At times, make them part of the process; ask them what they think. They are harder on themselves, more than you think. Let them be responsible for their own behaviors. “I’m really sorry you made that choice”, then walk away.

Be clear, give one warning. The consequences need to be clear. Come back to it; negotiation: “Wow, I really wanted us to go to the park but I can’t be sure you will use your good thinking.” Walk away again. We spend so much time in the negotiation game.

Too many choices are confusing and the message gets lost. Children are designed to go the distance until they get what they want.

You can be firm and strict without using a heavy hand or a harsh tone. Discipline develops through the standards we have, our expectations and reasoning. We do it with the child in mind, to help them understand why society has laws and rules to follow. In my 60 years and 42 of those years being with children I have found that many people feel rules don’t apply to them! They are the exception. Wow! What happened? Without saying a word, your standards, your ways and what you think filters into your child. They want to be just like you.

Some of the most important lessons in discipline occur through “quiet discipline” between parent and child. There are moments when we are not even aware we are disciplining, yet the child is learning how to act.

Parents who nag too much, who punish too much, on their child all the time… never really get the good behavior they want because they don’t use enough “quiet discipline”

Remember to enjoy your children and laugh often. Use humor in a good way, not to make fun of them. All children want is your attention, good or bad! It takes a long time for children to learn good ways of behaving. What kind of parent are you? What kind do you want to be?