Disciplining your kid is never easy. You want to encourage them to express themselves. To vent their frustrations. But at the same time? They need boundaries as they need to know the value of rules. They need to know limits. And they need to know the consequences.
Recent research has found that physical discipline has never helped child development. In fact, it can often elicit physical aggressive behavior. Boundaries can’t be forced or coerced. They need to be taught by both example and words.
How to discipline your kids?
Unfortunately, disciplining your kids has never been a “one size fits all” approach. There’s as much trial as there is error in teaching children limits. Luckily, there are some common sense practices which tend to work better. If you’ve ever been frustrated by solutions that never seem to solve very much, here are five practices to help you discipline your kids more effectively.
1. Be Cognizant Of Your Kid’s Triggers
Almost anything can spark a child’s trigger. And while this piece of advice might not seem like an effective discipline strategy, it can help you form a game plan in advance—which is invaluable when you’re facing tantrums and anger fits.
Anger is never a very rational emotion. And children communicate it through primal behavior. But learning to counter your kid’s tantrum with calm, measured reason can help lessen the impact when they do arrive (and make no mistake… they will definitely arrive.)
2. Keep It Simple
Your child isn’t likely aware how frustrating it is for you to cope with their behavior sometimes. And while it might seem both convenient and cathartic to explain your frustration, most kids rarely have the attention span to listen to a fifteen minute lecture from their parents.
Be firm. Be polite. Be certain. Also, be repetitive if you have to. But also be brief. Speak in short, unmistakable phrases and sentences. Disciplining your kid should leave no room for uncertainties. The more long winded and elaborate your explanation, the more uncertainty your child will have.
3. Offer Choices, Not Conditions
The earlier your kid is aware of the possibility of alternative actions, the easier it will be for them to understand the consequences of their behavior (and we’ve actually heard of some managers and executives using this advice when dealing with poor employee morale.)
But make sure the choices are not only limited, but subject to your approval. It may not be that they’re necessarily behaving badly—or looking for either a reward or validation—but simply attempting to test the limits of your control. Be courteous about the choices you offer. Emphasize they’re not bribes, but… choices.
4. Cultivate Empathy, Not Discipline
Your child should understand that you’re not offering punishment. You’re offering them a lesson. Explaining how their actions can actually cause damage and pain to other children, for example, is a very real and very pragmatic step towards instilling a healthy sense of ethics in your kid.
Mindfulness isn’t easy for adults, much less children. And it can be a long and prolonged discipline that takes decades (if not a lifetime) to achieve. But by teaching your children to show mutual respect and tolerate differences at an early age, you’re not just teaching them to be a better person. You’re helping to contribute to society.
5. Emphasize The Positives
If all you’re doing is teaching your children “don’ts” and “not tos,” eventually you’re going to run out of excuses to validate them with. No one likes the term “because I said so” as an answer. For example, if your child is less than helpful about sharing, suggest that they just might like it—not that they’re being selfish. By eliminating negatives, you’re establishing a behavioral pattern for them to follow, instead of providing criticism.
It’s important to use a neutral tone when eliminating negatives in disciplining your child. Try not to imply that their behavior displeases you. Instead, try implying that positive behavior can bring a positive outcome. It reinforces your confidence as a parent, and your confidence in your kid, as well.
Need more tips on effectively disciplining your kid? At Handprints Childcare, we help parents raise strong, confident and active kids between the ages of 6 and 12.
Email us at [email protected] or call (214) 484-1018 for further information or to schedule a tour today!