Have you ever noticed how many instruction manuals come with a new car, a new stove, or even your new flat iron? Now, have you noticed that you donâ€™t get the same number of manuals with your children?
It is totally wrong. I could work a stove in my sleep, but having a few more manufacturersâ€™ instructions for raising my kids would be awesome.
Discipline is one of the most difficult things to get down. How do you find the balance between healthy discipline that will teach your child to be a responsible, functioning part of society and turning them into a sociopath?
The thing is, youâ€™ll be able to see the mistakes other parents make once your kids are grown up, but it is hard to listen to more experienced parentsâ€™ advice when you are in the midst of child rearing. It just doesnâ€™t seem like they understand your unique situation.
Believe me, we understand.
So, from the perspective of a very experienced parent, let me share some of my thoughts. Feel free to take them or leave them. Four of my eight kids are responsible adults and the rest are on their way. Not a sociopath in the bunch â€“ yet.
Know When to Discipline
Children go through stages as they grow. They have different levels of physical, emotional, and intellectual development and there is no point in disciplining for something they canâ€™t help. For example, kids under the age of five spill things. They just do.
Eventually they grow out of it (mostly), but yelling at your four year old for spilling a glass of milk or bowl of spaghetti is pointless. You are reacting from anger and frustration. Same thing with a tantrum – don’t encourage it but don’t discipline for it either. Just walk away.
A ten year old will eventually know her multiplication tables. There is no point in grounding her for not being able to memorize them unless she is totally blowing off school all together.
Teenagers are going to experiment and try things youâ€™d rather they wouldnâ€™t. Sometimes you need to discipline but often the consequences of their bad choices will often be enough.
Timing Is Everything
Having one parent be the primary disciplinarian creates family factions. The disciplining parent becomes the mean one while the non-disciplining parent is labeled as the fun one. It encourages kids to play one against the other and creates discord.
Donâ€™t wait until the other parent gets home to administer correction, handle the situation immediately.
Say What You Mean
How many times have you heard a parent say, â€œJunior! If you do that again you will get a time out!â€ Now, how many times have you heard a parent say that phrase three or more times before acting on the threat?
When you make a discipline statement you need to follow up on it immediately. Counting, repeating your statement, or ignoring the behavior just teaches your child that he has the option of continuing in his behavior until he senses you are about to get mad and follow through.
There are times when you threaten something and then for a very good reason donâ€™t go through with it, but these times should be rare.
Donâ€™t Get Mad
When your child is doing something wrong it is easy to ignore it until you get angry. Disciplining when you are frustrated and angry is not discipline â€“ itâ€™s retaliation. When a child knowingly breaks a rule you discipline. Period.
Discipline for the Right Things
This goes along with the first point. Donâ€™t discipline for honest mistakes but only for intentional breaking of rules.
If a childÂ accidentallyÂ breaks a lamp, then having him clean it up and asking him to be more careful in the future should be sufficient. It could happen to anyone.
If a child breaks a lamp because he is throwing a football in the house, knowing that that is not appropriate? Well folks, that is begging for discipline.
Do you agree or disagree?
photo credit: Christine Szeto