From the day your little bundle of joy is born, congratulations and well wishes are given, but no one really explains to the new parents that parenthood is no easy feat and is a lifelong commitment. Sure, you have a vague idea but, one rarely knows the challenges of being a parent until you become one. One of the toughest challenges most parents face in this day and age is discipline. As an Educator and a mother of three rambunctious children, I know firsthand how difficult it is to discipline not only my own children but those others as well. At home and at school I employ a reward system (where good and positive behaviour is rewarded and inappropriate behaviour is penalised with a timeout, demerit. etc) with the hopes that my children would motivate themselves to behave in an appropriate manner but even this method seems to fall short. Children seemed to be unfazed by punishments, demerits, and even to some extent, rewards. There are various reasons why children misbehave and struggle with discipline, ranging from: socio economic backgrounds; adolescence; culture; health etc. Some of these factors are beyond our control as parents but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to “try” and discipline our offspring. ”Oh leave him it’s just a phase! He’s a teenager!” or “ She’s only a toddler!”. Children will use this to their advantage -clever little buggers- to continue their bad behaviour as they now have an excuse to do so.
So what can we as parents do to instill discipline in our children? I came across an interesting article by renowned TV psychologist Dr.Phil in which he highlights 5 disciplining techniques as well as common disciplining mistakes.
Five Steps to Disciplining Your Kids
Do you need alternatives on how to get through to your children? Are you at the end of your rope? Dr. Phil offers Five Steps on How to Discipline Your Kids—without spanking.
1. Commit Yourself.
It’s crucial that your child knows that you’re going to do what you say you will. If you explain what a punishment will be, and then don’t act on it, you will have less credibility the next time. Make a commitment to your child’s discipline, and be consistent in your behavior toward them.
2. Be Realistic in Your Expectations of Your Child.
Don’t ask your child to do anything he/she cannot do. Make sure that what you are asking of your child is a behavior within his or her reach — if it’s not, your child will get frustrated and be less likely to listen to you in the future.
3. Define Your Child’s Currency.
Find out what your child values — it could be a toy, a particular activity, or even a privilege like getting to stay awake to a particular hour. Dr Phil explains: “If you control the currency, you control the behavior that currency depends on.” Once you understand what your child values, you can withdraw positive things (taking away the toy) or introduce negative things (making them take a time-out) as a form of discipline.
4. Give Your Children Predictable Consequences.
It’s important for your child to understand that the same result will come from the same behavior. Make your child feel like he/she has control over their life: If your child behaves in “Way A,” they need to be sure that they will always get “Consequence B.” If he/she can count on the rules staying the same, they’re more likely to abide by them.
5. Use Child-Level Logic.
Explain your values in terms your child can understand. Take the time to explain the reasons behind why you are asking he/she to behave in certain ways — if your child understands the kinds of behavior you’d like them to avoid, they’re more likely to apply that reasoning to different situations, instead of learning to stop one behavior at a time.
Common Discipline Mistakes
Dr. Phil explains some of the most common discipline mistakes parents make and how to avoid them.
Losing Your Temper
When you habitually yell at your children, they can end up yelling back at you. Children are actually more responsive to calm requests and commands.
Disagreeing on Rules
Never disagree on discipline in front of your children. Parents must present a united front to their kids when enforcing rules. Otherwise, they will quickly learn how to “divide and conquer.”
Treating Children as Small Adults
Although you want your children to know that they are heard, you shouldn’t make the mistake of letting them have an equal say in the rules of the household. This is a parent/child relationship, not a democracy. As children get older, parents can explain the reasoning behind their decisions.
Bribery is not a healthy or effective form of motivation for children. You want your children to learn right from wrong regardless of whether or not there is a reward for behaving in an appropriate way.
Be careful of praising your children too much or too little. Appropriate praise can be healthy and build self-esteem, but if overused, it can leave a child feeling inadequate when he/she doesn’t receive it. Give affirmation for positive behavior and hopefully, your child will repeat the good behaviors that bring appreciation.
It’s important that parents are consistent with discipline in order to avoid making their children confused about guidelines and consequences. For example, if action A leads to consequence B, it needs to do so all of the time.
The punishment should be a natural and logical consequence of the punishable behavior. If the punishment isn’t fair, you can lose the opportunity to “teach” your child through the act of disciplining because your child’s focus will be on the unfair punishment.
Insha-Allah I hope you found this information as valuable as I have. I realise that there is no overnight solution for disciplining one’s children but with time and patience……..