Discipline was easy for our parents because obedience was a quality inculcated from an early age. For defaulters a good spanking or even a beating was considered permissible to bring them into line. Gradually however as the evils of corporal punishment are understood, discipline has become very complicated. There are parents who continue to hit their children, while there are others who have virtually abandoned all attempts at discipline for fear of scarring their children. In between these two extremes there is another way
- Say goodbye to spanking. Hitting a child legitimises violence and teaches him that it is acceptable to hit others when he is angry.
- Try and figure out the reason for misbehaviour- is the child tired, has he not understood your orders? Solve the problem by discussing the problem with the child and putting your point of view across ( in age appropriate terms) and inviting the child to do the same.
- Set clear limits and expectations in advance along with a clear set of consequences in case of mis-behaviour.
- Be consistent in enforcing your rules so that there is no ambiguity.
The Golden Rules for setting Rules for young children are: –
– Explain your rules in age appropriate terms.
– Make rules consistent.
– Make rules clear and unambiguous
– Make reasonable rules.
– Repeat the rules often.
– Don’t make too many rules.
– Make it easy for the child to follow the rules.
– Don’t expect perfect compliance.
– Follow the rules yourself.
- Focus more on good behaviour through acknowledgements and praise, than on negative behaviour.
- Limit punishments to something within your control.
- Criticise the child’s negative behaviour not him. Tell him how he has done a wrong thing and not that he has been a bad boy. Children who face regular personal criticism tend to be less tolerant, more uncooperative and defiant.
- Choose your battles-don’t turn everything into a confrontation. Choose the issues important to you and to the safety of your child.
- Try and place acceptable options in the form of a choice – you can do this now or later.
- Start early. Let your child grow up with clear concepts of acceptable or unacceptable behaviour in your family and the consequences of disobedience.
While a child of any age can succeed in irritating her parents, preteens and teens appear to especially gifted in this respect. Here are some tips for constructively managing your anger
– Don’t repress your anger – it will only come out in an over-reaction later.
– Tell your child that you are getting angry and why.
– Remove yourself – this gives you time to cool down, avoids a confrontation and sets a good example of self-control.
– Remove the teen from the scene by using time out techniques.
– Avoid lengthy lectures which will be tuned out. Be brief and specific.
– Avoid accusations and blame which will only serve to inflame and encourage resistance.
– Don’t over generalise by using words like ‘always’ and ‘never’.
– Stay in the present. Past misdeeds should not be dug up nor should dire predictions be made about his future.
– Focus only on the essentials and forget the rest.
– Think before you react.
– Try and see the child’s view point.
– If you were wrong, apologise. You will gain respect, not lose it. You will also be setting a valuable example.
Time out is a discipline strategy that has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It consists of putting the misbehaving child for a few minutes in a hazard free room or in a corner away from siblings or in a chair in another room. The concept of time-out is a good alternative to spanking but success depends upon understanding and correctly implementing the main assumptions behind it.
– Time-outs should not be used before 2 years of age.
– Use it for aggressive verbal or physical behaviour, threats to hurt some one, hostile or verbally abusive remarks and potentially dangerous behaviour.
– Act calmly. Time out is meant to give both of you a cooling off period to diffuse anger.
– Explain to the child before you begin using time-outs that it is a choice that the child has. He can misbehave and lose his fun and freedom for a while.
– As a general rule the time out should be for one minute per year of age.
– The intention is not to punish but to allow the child to be removed from an out of control situation and give him time to recover himself.
– Give explanations before imposing time-outs to help the child understand the consequences of misbehaviour.
– If a child refuses to comply, count to five then lead her or carry her to the time-out location. Use a calm but firm tone.
– If a child refuses to stay seated try applying gentle pressure to keep him in place or allow him to stand up.
– Don’t lecture, spank or respond to any pleas on the way.
– Be consistent in application.