Discipline can be a hard topic to discuss. How we discipline our children is personal. Why we discipline our children on the other hand, is usually pretty universal – to keep them safe and to teach right from wrong.
No one likes to discipline their child, but when it is necessary, how should it be done so that it’s healthy and effective?
Discipline tactics can differ with age. How you discipline a toddler can be very different from how you would discipline a teenager. We’ve compiled a list of tactics that are effective for all ages.
- Re-focus. Direct your child’s negative energy into something they can control. Ask your child to complete 10 push-ups and count while they are doing them. This engages both their motor and vocal skills, distracting them from the negative behavior.
- Explain your reasoning. Use short, simple sentences to help them understand the negative impact of their choices. “Ben, when you hit me, it hurts. Do you want to hurt me?” “Jenny, you only need to brush the teeth you don’t want to rot. Which teeth do you want to rot?”
- Set expectations. We can’t expect our children to follow the rules if they don’t know what they are. Pick five behaviors that bother you and set rules around them. Then hold a family meeting so everyone knows the house rules. Post them on the refrigerator or another popular place in your house.
- Teach consequences. When your child is happy, have them pick five consequences for negative behavior. Make each consequence greater than the next. For example, the first time a negative behavior occurs, then your child loses his bike for 30 minutes. The next time a negative behavior occurs, he/she loses the bike for the whole day. The next time a negative behavior occurs, he/she loses the ipad or television and so on. Consequences only effect the current day. Let them start fresh tomorrow.
- Reward the positive. Instead of focusing on your children’s negative behaviors, reward their positive. For example, “Ben, you did a great job sharing your toys” or “Jenny, thank you for using your manners.” Negative behavior is usually done to seek attention. When you give positive attention, you are feeding the same need, but in a healthy way.
TKD Tip: Discipline practices aren’t learned overnight. Think about the behaviors that concern you the most and set goals.
Parent/Child Activity: Take your child to a public place like a mall or a park and ask your child to identify a situation when a child isn’t well disciplined. Ask your child how he/she knew the child wasn’t well disciplined and how that made them feel. Also, ask them how they would handle the situation if they were the parent and what that child could do differently next time.