Disciplining your children is never an easy task. What makes it more difficult is that different styles should be applied to your children because there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to discipline.
What may work on a 4-year-old will not work on a teenager. However, there are still the basic principles every parent should know when it comes to discipline. Here are 10 of the most effective tips on how to discipline your children.
Acknowledge and reward your child
This tip is not only applicable to discipline. The reward system is known to be effective when it comes to appreciating and motivating people in whatever situation they are in. In fact, it is the same principle that companies follow when rewarding their employees. If they perform well, they get a higher raise or they get a reward. The same goes for children.
A reward system is helpful because your children will have something to look forward to instead of blindly following the rules you give them. However, it is not simply giving them a prize when they follow you. A reward system only helps in disciplining your children if your children know the connection of the reward to what you are teaching.
Take, for example, when your child asks if they can go watch this new movie being shown in theaters. Instead of just agreeing to them all the time and giving them what they want when they want it (which might mold your children into brats and no parent would want that), tell them that if they learn to fix their bed and take a shower on time they can go see the new movie. This way, they know that once they do what you told them well, they will get rewarded.
Of course, you have to moderate the rewards you give. It is not every time that they do something right that they get rewarded. A reward system can form expectations on your children, so it is best to explain why the reward is given. You should make sure that your children understand why continuous rewards are not good and why they should learn to be disciplined even if they don’t receive rewards every single time.
Avoid harsh punishment and shaming
As parents, it’s hard not to get mad. When you get home from work all stressed and exhausted, a naughty and annoying child is the last thing you would want to encounter. When they get on your nerves, it’s hard to control not getting angry. It’s even harder to be patient when your children are testing you. That is why parents end up yelling or hitting their children with a belt or a paddle.
Although punishment can help remove the unwanted behavior in your children, this doesn’t mean that they are already disciplined. Psychology says that punishment removes unwanted behavior only when the punisher is there. So when you aren’t there, your children can still be naughty and hard-headed. They could continue being disobedient to anyone when your back is turned.
Another instance could be that the child might find a way so that they do not get caught doing bad deeds. In the long run, this will be problematic because as your children grow older and they get used to hiding things from you, who knows what they can do behind your back as they reach the teenage stage. To add to that, punishment only results to a fear of being punished, but they can choose to not understand why they were being punished in the first place.
Set clear and simple rules
Before even punishing or scolding the child for what they did, it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children what is right from wrong. Parents should first explain what is expected of the child and what the right conduct is when it comes to different situations. For example, when you encounter a long line at the ticket booth, you can start talking to your child about what is the right thing to do. Tell them that it is rude to cut a line or to go to the front of the line without lining up. Your child or children will understand what they should do during those situations.
To make this more effective, you should also make sure that you discuss them not just once, but more times as needed. This ensures that your children remember what to do and their understanding of why it should be done deepens.
Also, when you teach the rules, make sure that you explain them in a simple manner. Giving them overly complicated rules and sample situations will only confuse them and can lead to a misunderstanding of the right conduct. Teach your children simple rules and follow it up constantly so that they remember and understand fully.
Consistently monitor rules
In conjunction with the previous tip, monitoring the rules is an important way to ensure discipline in your children. This is because if you implement the rules only once without any follow-up, chances are that they will forget them. Your children could also feel that being disciplined is not a serious matter because the rules can just be shrugged off at times.
If your goal is to mold disciplined and responsible individuals, you should consistently remind your children what to do and what not to do. But reminding your children of the rules is not enough. You should also consistently monitor whether or not they follow it. If they don’t, then necessary action should be done because if you let one instance pass, that can lead to few more instances being taken for granted.
Be a role model of a disciplined individual
Who else will children look up to if not to their parents? Parents have a huge role in shaping a child because they are the first people they will encounter and the people they will spend the most time with during their growing years. This is why children end up copying their parents.
In much the same way, bad behavior from parents can be easily mirrored by children. If you talk back to other people and your child sees this, they will also talk back to you. If you call them out on why they are doing this, they will immediately say that they saw you and wonder why they aren’t allowed to do the same thing.
To a good number of people, this tip will be challenging. This is because it is a lot easier to impose rules and expectations on others while making an exception to yourself. Parents fall victim to this particular instance because some are not even disciplined individuals, yet they expect their children to be disciplined.
We can’t blame parents, however, because as their behavior is mirrored to them by their children, they will see that what they are doing is not right. Sadly, some households do not have this mindset. In some families, when children question the bad behavior of their parents, some end up answering “I’m old enough”.
Giving this reason as a way to justify your wrongdoing is not going to help make your children disciplined. It will only make them question your authority as a parent and to an extent, question all the things you teach them. If you want your children to be disciplined, make sure that you yourself are disciplined so that it is easier for them to copy the right thing to do.
Always give your children the right amount of attention
Children need attention. Attention makes each of your children feel loved and appreciated. Giving them attention is the best way for them to feel that they are in a loving environment and that their parents truly care for them. But because parents can be busy at times, attention is not always given.
If children are neglected, they do their best to get their parent’s attention. They will do anything, even become unruly just to be noticed. This is why children resort to being naughty and disobedient so that they can have a monopoly of their parent’s time.
While attention is very important in disciplining your children, always remember that the right amount of attention is given. This means that you don’t have to be there night and day monitoring or playing with your child. This is almost impossible, so what you should do is give a few minutes or an hour a day just spending time with your child.
If you have more than one child, make sure that each of your children has undisturbed time with you. There should be no distractions like electronic gadgets because this affects the quality of your conversation or activities.
As parents, you can set a good example by stowing away your phone and start giving your undivided attention to your children. You can also take time off work during the weekends (if you do have work during those days) and spend time playing, watching, or going out with your kids. This way, you can really monitor how they are and you can correct some behavior problems, you witness.
Do not expect nor pressure them to learn right away
It takes time to learn. No matter what age you are in, learning something does not come quickly. It takes weeks, months, and even years for people to learn. The same thing goes for learning how to be disciplined. As parents, you cannot expect your children to be disciplined right after you scold or talk to them. They do not pick up those things immediately.
Learning the right rule of conduct would have to take some time and it would require your patience and determination. It is also important to remember that there are aspects of discipline that children learn on their own. Take, for example, good hygiene. Of course, as parents, you do not want your child to smell bad.
You also do not want them to be ashamed when someone suddenly criticizes them on how untidy they look. But instead of always scolding your children and teaching them every single time how to keep themselves neat, you should allow time to run its course.
This also means letting go of some things that you think your child should learn while they are young. While there is nothing wrong with teaching them to be disciplined at a young age, you cannot expect your children to be so disciplined then. There are things that maturity will have to take care of. Going back to the hygiene example, maturity will eventually “teach” your child how to fix their hair properly, pick the right clothes, and even have the right manners.
Another benefit of this tip is that when you give your children time, you give yourself time as well. What this means is that it helps you when you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself to mold your children to be perfect. This is because parents can be caught up with disciplining their child that they end up doing it wrong.
They become very bossy, authoritarian, and even dictatorial. Being too strict on how they should be just defeats the purpose of learning how to be disciplined. Also, when children grow up in a strict environment with no room to grow and make mistakes only makes them feel that they are not free to be themselves.
Do not ignore their feelings
One key tip in disciplining your children is validating their feelings. Validating their feelings doesn’t mean that you just agree with them or praise them for everything they say or do. Proper validation of your children’s feelings is actually listening to them without judgment, acknowledging what they are going through, and more importantly, being patient with them.
This is a tall order, and a lot of parents can attest to that. It is hard enough not to give judgment because most of the time, parents have already been through what their child is experiencing. Hence, they know better than their child. However, it is still not right to tell your child what they should do without even stopping to ask how they are and what they are feeling. This will lead to your child feeling that there is no room for error or that their feelings are always wrong.
So why is this important to discipline a child? One challenge of teaching your children how to behave well and do the right thing is them not listening. Yes, you’ve become patient, and yes, you’ve done all the disciplinary methods the parenting magazines say. This will all be futile if your children do not want to listen to you.
Putting some of the tips mentioned above, you can try being a role model of listening by listening to your children. If they see that you listen to them, then they can follow suit and start listening to you. This method not only helps in discipline, but it also helps in cultivating respect. Once your children learn to respect others from witnessing how you respect them and their feelings, they will start to give others what they are due.
Asking why leads you to know the root cause of disobedience. There are many factors as to why children act in a certain way. For example, if your child is misbehaving, you can ask them and yourself for such behavior. You would be surprised at what they might say because children can go from having a reason to having no reason at all.
Also, when you ask your children where their disobedience is coming from, they will feel that you are interested in what they are experiencing. This makes them feel that you are more of a friend to confide with rather than a dictator. When you cultivate a good relationship with your children, they would start to be more open and respectful to you in the same way that they respect their closest friends. Of course, there should be limits as to how they will treat you. After all, you are a parent and you should still command authority.
Cultivate a loving and respectful environment
Last but not the least is to cultivate a loving and respectful environment. When you discipline your children, it is so easy to get caught up with making them follow what you say that you end up nagging them every single time. You might also resort to punishment as a result of your frustration. However, all these things will not help because, at the end of the day, it is so much easier to discipline a child if they know it is being done for the right reasons.
As parents, you should be able to explain to your children that they are being disciplined for a reason and that it will be helpful as they grow up. You can give concrete examples as to how being disciplined makes them more successful. For example, you can make use of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs as a model for your children to see more clearly how being disciplined in studies, money matters, and taking care of themselves go a long way.