The word discipline may have a negative connotation, but it’s actually something useful and necessary. Great outcomes can emerge from effective discipline. Parents often become overwhelmed by the prospect of disciplining their children. Fret no more! Below are 6 simple tips to help manage your child’s behavior successfully.
When parenting, it makes sense that our goal is to increase our children’s positive behavior. At the same time, we want to deter or decrease negative behavior.
When observing and defining behavior, take care to be specific. Saying your kid is “acting like a brat” is general, subjective, and won’t help you to best invoke your disciplining skills. Defining the action, such as your son is “teasing his sister” or “breaking his toys”—those are specifics behaviors that can be targeted for improvement or extinction
1. Explain What’s Expected
You’re not a mind reader and neither is your child. It’s very important that you communicate expectations. If you want your kids to take off their shoes at the front door, let them know. You can write it down and let them read it. You can tell them. Just make sure when you are giving direction that you do it face-to-face. Children get distracted easily—make sure your child actually heard you. If you’d like, you can always ask him to repeat back to you what he heard you say.
2. Practice Do-Overs
When your kid comes running into the house with muddy boots (and she’s been told to take them off at the door), help her practice the rule. Instead of screaming, calmly bring the child back to the front door. Remind her of the rule. Now give her another chance to be successful. Thank her when she takes off the boots. Reiterate that next time, this is the behavior you’d prefer.
3. Be Clear What’s Happening Next
As adults, we make schedules and are the managers of our own time. But we’re also in charge of when our children will be doing something. Give your kids fair warning. If you’re leaving the house in 10 minutes, let them know they need to start wrapping up what’s they’re in the middle of. Giving youngsters notice of upcoming expectations eases their anxiety.
The majority of negative-behavior displays often originate from a child’s anxiety level. (Other sources are lack of sleep and hunger.)
4. Ignore Bad Behavior
Although this sounds absurd (and impossible), it’s not. When your kid is doing something she’s knows she’s not suppose to, it’s mostly to get your attention. If you give her attention by yelling at her, you’ve now reinforced that bad behavior gets noticed. That’s not something you want.
If you look away, don’t respond, don’t freak out, more often than not, the child will cease the behavior. Once she stops, immediately give positive reinforcement by offering attention. She will learn that when she behaves nicely and properly, you are happy to spend time together.
Do NOT actively ignore if your child is hurting herself or another. Use this tip only for annoying behaviors (like incessant talking, tapping you on the arm 800 times, not cleaning up, etc.). Also, do not ignore destructive behavior.
5. Keep Consequences Realistic, Deliverable, and Proportionate
After you’ve told your child he would be receiving consequences for continuing negative behavior, make sure he knows what it’s going to be, beforehand. This gives him the opportunity to stop the bad behavior or accept the consequences.
If he makes the choice to continue with his behavior, don’t overact. Keep your emotions in tact. Clearly, deliver the punishment and briefly remind him why he’s receiving it. There’s no need to yell. That’s won’t help the child learn. He will, however, learn that continuing to throw food around, however, means he doesn’t get to play with the iPad after lunch.
Removing access from a desired item is torture for a kid. If that’s what you choose as a consequence, make the time frame realistic. A short time away from a favorite toy will send a loud message. Also, make sure you follow through with the understood consequences, even if he begs and swears the behavior won’t happen again. It just did. Be strong and do the calm, right thing and that will bring about more desirable results next time he thinks of flinging spaghetti onto the wall.
6. Create Structure
All of these tips for successful disciplining point back to “following rules.” As mentioned, setting up and expressing expectations will define the rules of your home. So, creating structure will help your children follow along with your plan.
If everyone wakes up at the same time every morning, your child will learn “this is when we get ready for our day”, or “this is when we eat breakfast.” If you want your kid to eat breakfast, then be consistent with wake-up time and when food is available.
Bedtime structure is also very important. Proper sleep for everyone is essential. When a child knows a routine and experiences structure, she is more secure. She understands what to expect throughout the day. Rigidity is not particularly healthy, but organizing and experiencing events in a consistent manner will help the disciplinary process.
Of course no ”method” for parenting will be perfect fit for everyone. Being individuals, all with different life circumstances, our challenges will vary. The above tips are offered as helpful tools. Hopefully, some of them will strike a chord for you and your parenting style. For other articles on families and health, check out GetThrive.com