As a parent of two boys under 10, I have often caught myself talking lovingly to one son and reprimanding the other in my sternest voice – all in the span of two minutes. Everyone will agree that being a parent is a tough job, one that requires you to model good behaviour continually, be your child’s trusted confidante, and discipline lovingly.
How does one discipline lovingly? That in itself is an oxymoron. You are often caught between wanting to be your child’s friend but become their, as my son puts it, “Enemy #1”. But as all responsible parents know, disciplining your child may not be pretty, but it isn’t something you can escape. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t resort to yelling and spanking: Studies have now made it very clear that yelling and spanking may stop the behaviour momentarily but won’t correct it for good. Children who are spanked tend to grow up to be aggressive in their teens.
- Get everyone on board: If you are trying to correct a particular behaviour of your child, then it would help if all members of the family (including grandparents), were on the same page and do not contradict one another. Children tend to quickly pick up on a lenient family member and continue doing what they shouldn’t be doing.
- Model behaviour: If you want your child to eat healthily, you need to eat healthy too. You can’t expect your child to stay off chips if they see you eating a bowlful!
- Timeouts work: Intervene and offer a timeout. Ask your child to sit down and think of what they have done wrong. When they have calmed down, ask them to tell you where they went wrong.
- Angry with behaviour, not with them: Always hug your child after you have disciplined them, so they know you were upset with their behaviour and still love them. This will mean a lot to younger children.
- Praise good behaviour: Sometimes catching your child doing something right and praising them for it goes a long way in learning discipline. Make sure you appreciate it when they do something good.
You will definitely see a change when you try the tips above. Always use positive discipline strategies that correct the wrong behaviour and ensure your child is kept away from harm. Need a little more help? Here are a few things you could try.
Tips for disciplining your toddler:
- Do not get agitated: Toddlers have a way of doing the absolute wrong thing at the wrong time. Do not let it get to you. Stay calm and speak to your toddler about why they shouldn’t do it again.
- Get ahead of tantrums: Toddlers are prone to throwing tantrums. So make sure you pay attention to tantrum triggers like being too tired, or hungry, or too wound up and address them before a tantrum strikes.
Tips for disciplining your preschooler:
- What they should do instead of shouldn’t: Use positive words instead of stating the negative to correct a behaviour. When they insist on sitting down in a public washroom try saying, “This is an only standing place” instead of saying, “Don’t sit down on the dirty floor!”
- Be clear with instructions: Don’t just state what you want your child to do. Sometimes ambiguity may cause them to disobey. Instead of saying, clean your room, try saying, “First, put your books on the shelf, then your clothes in your cupboard.” State instructions in clear, calm, tone.
- Be firm, but not unkind: Do not call them names or shame them for something they have done. Speak firmly, so they know you mean business.
- Acknowledge their feelings: Do not overrule or ignore your child’s feelings. Listen to their side of the story and then offer a solution.
Tips for disciplining your grade-schooler:
- Set firm boundaries: Do not be ambiguous with your limits and rules. Your child needs to know they can’t play with set limits.
- Follow through with your punishment: Set realistic consequences to bad behaviour and follow through with the punishment. Your child needs to know it is not an empty threat, and there are consequences when they do something wrong.
We hope these tips help you punctuate love with discipline. Being a parent does require you to play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde multiple times a day but make sure you always remain calm and positively discipline your child. Write in and tell us what tips worked for you, and if you would like to share something that we may have left out. Remember, being your child’s friend is good, but raising them to be well-adjusted, disciplined beings is much more important.