Discipline has to be the most challenging part of parenting. But raising a child can also be the most rewarding thing when done right. Discipline is essential for your child’s character development. As children grow up, new habits start to develop and it’s our responsibility as parents to steer our child’s behavior in the right direction to make better individuals out of them. Here are six tips every parent must know about how to discipline a child.
Target the Behavior, Not your Child
The core of discipline is to teach and encourage your child to choose good behavior at all times. Not to punish the child but to point out the deed that requires some adjustment.
Bad behavior isn’t uncommon in kids. But these can be remedied by first figuring out what causes such behaviour. It could be the environment, how your child feels at that moment, or if something is bothering them. It’s easy to get mad as an initial reaction but learning about the underlying cause of your child’s behavior eases the pressure for you as a parent. This makes it easier to focus on the behavior and letting your child understand that what they did was unacceptable without breaking into an emotional power struggle.
Show them how it’s done by offering choices
In the case of your child hitting someone, offering them what to do, such as saying “ask nicely” gives your child an alternate way of dealing with the situation, instead of focusing on what they shouldn’t do. Most of the time, reminding your child to “not do this” and “not to do that” can result in them finding other means of behaving badly.
If the wrong behavior has already been done, you can still give your child an “out” by telling them to say sorry. As opposed to giving your child a “time out” if they refuse to say sorry, you can instead offer to do a “time in” where you can stay doing absolutely nothing or anything until your child is ready to say sorry.
Choices give your child a sense of control. Just be ready to pick the choices carefully and honor them once your child makes one.
Correct with Empathy
Never let your temper get the best of you when dealing with your child. Your child can give out all the reasons why they’re right and why they did what they did – for example hitting – but arguing with your child should never be an option. Emphasize your authority as a loving and empathetic parent by restating the reasons your child is insisting on, followed by firmly pointing out what they should not have done. Empathy goes a long way. It establishes a connection with your child by making them feel heard and understood. And this makes it easier for them to reflect on their behavior more effectively.
Make Lessons from Mistakes
One thing that mistakes teach us is being able to find alternatives to do things differently. This is the same with how to discipline a child.
As a parent, you can use mistakes as teachable moments without launching into a full on lecture. Children are more open to listening when you teach without condemning them for their bad behavior.
Instead of quickly getting mad at your child for making a mistake, use examples of past behavior and recollections of past experiences to teach them about what they did wrong. You can also present them with another option on how to deal with the situation as a way to encourage better behavior.
Be Consistent with Boundaries
The greatest challenge with disciplining a child will always be children testing boundaries. This is why firm and consistent rule enforcement is necessary. Be sure to maintain clear boundaries for your child and make no room for bending or breaking them. Be firm with the rules you’ve set and avoid negotiations. And establish your parental authority by not giving in to your child’s requests at any moment. If you say gadgets are not allowed at bedtime, remember to keep that rule consistent and make sure your child understands the consequences if they don’t adhere to it.
Make Simple, Friendly Reminders
Has there ever been a time when your child has resisted the task you asked them to do? If this always happens, making quick one-word reminders with a friendly tone might just help. Ordering your child a lot can sometimes lead to defiance. Criticism won’t make them feel good about the task either. Instead, reminding them with keywords such as “shoes” or “door” makes the instruction sound “neutral” and therefore places no burden on them to accomplish the task. When your child is aware of what you expect them to do, reminders are enough for them to willingly do it.
Discipline is hard work and can require a lot of adjustments from you as a parent but keeping note of these strategies will give you insight on how to discipline your child more effectively.
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