We all talk about responsible parenting and we know that our styles are bound to differ. So a definite manual will never be available but when it comes to disciplining your child, we always look for dos and don'ts. The primary concern is to make the child responsible and accountable for their own behavior in the presence or absence of a supervising adult. Topping this list is ‘punishments for discipline’. In the name of discipline, parents believe that punishment reinforces corrective action for kids to not repeat their mistakes.
Punishments are aimed at focusing on consequences of the child’s behavior, but it usually has them focusing on their own suffering instead. It negates a personality, introduces the idea of a bad child and results possibly in the child opting for dishonest methods and sneaking around in the future. It further creates aggression, highlighting the importance of authority which the child might display amongst his/ her peers too. As we aspire to treat children as responsible adults, the idea of punishment overrides this plan and establishes an unwanted fear based relationship. As L. R. Knost said, “Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.” To discipline the child, try some of these instead:
1. Showing empathy and acknowledging your child’s feelings with statements of assurance by understanding the actual problem.
2. Shift focus from an unwanted ‘supposed bad behavior’ by reiterating on real life examples of good behavior and engaging in discussions about people the child relates to.
3. Time out is a popular option, after explaining the reason for the action. Give choices to your child and encourage a sound decision-making system. Give your child adequate time to focus and re-engage.
4. As tempting as yelling and spanking may be, it’s a complete no-no in child development. Strangely a whisper is far more effective and calming for both the parent and child.
5. Discussions with children should be simple yet purposeful. Merely giving warning instructions hardly gives them any clarity or learning. Instead, explain what the issue is and ask them to come up with solutions.
Each of these suggestions would work differently with different children, so it is imperative that you find a way that is working best for you. Further, try and distract them to more engaging scenarios rather than criticize over spilled milk. Capitalize on those times when they exhibit good behavior, appreciate them and tell them what they did right. As we all strive to perfect parenting, we must always remember, no amount of guidelines are sufficient until we set expectations for children that are age appropriate. So here’s a thought to ponder with, in the words of Glennon Melton “Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid, that you forget you already have one”.