Time Out: 4 Ways to Discipline Your Child Without Making Common Disciplining Mistakes
Administering effective discipline while remaining a calm loving parent can be a tough call. How do you effectively discipline your toddler, tween, or teen so they will understand the consequences of their actions? How do you separate your child’s bad behaviour from the good person that he is? How do you get your child to grow up knowing right from wrong while still showing him unconditional affection? Here are several ways loving parents can discipline their children and some mistakes to avoid:
1. Mistake 1: Not Explaining the Reason for Disciplining
Often, parents jump into disciplining a child without much of an explanation. Admittedly, you are the parent, you do set the rules, and you expect your child to comply. However, the discipline you impart will be far more effective when you explain to your child why you are disciplining him in the first place. This is especially important when handling the younger children who do not have a strong logic to link actions and consequences. For example, if your 3 year old decides to decorate the couch with his food the first time, you ought to explain to him why this is wrong and what will happen to him if he messes up the couch again. If he does it again, you might opt for a timeout; explain to him why you are placing him on timeout so he will understand the consequences of his actions.
2. Mistake 2: Failing to Follow Through
For your discipline regimen to yield the results you are looking for, you need to commit yourself to following through with it. Your child is likely to underestimate you and the values you are trying to impart if you do not do what you said you would do. For example, you ask your teenager not to stay out late and the consequence of staying out late is that she will not receive any pocket money for a week; you need to follow through with this. If indeed your teenager disregards your rule but you still proceed to offer her pocket money for the week, how will she understand that her disobedience has consequences? How will she follow through with other house rules when you do not follow through with your discipline plan? The bottom line is that disciplining your child must be consistent.
3. Mistake 3: Bribing Your Child
8-year-old Jesse will not do anything unless there is a quid pro quo between him and his mother. Jesse’s mom has to bribe her son so he will follow the rules and stick to his best behaviour. For example, he will not organize his room even though the consequence of leaving his room untidy is a one-day ban on playing computer games after school. To get him to organize his room, his mom promises to allow him to play video games all weekend long. Discipline should not be a compromise or an act of bribery by the parent. Loving discipline is about teaching your child responsibility and showing him right from wrong. Bribing your child to do the right thing will teach him that nothing good gets done unless there is a reward.
4. Mistake 4: Unrelated Punishment
Loving parents understand the value of disciplining their children. However, they also understand that for the discipline to be effective it must relate to the offense. When your 5 year old decorates the couch with his food, it would be inappropriate to leave him starving for the rest of the day. If your teenager comes home late, it would be best to let her into the house where you can discuss the consequences of her behaviour rather than telling her to go back where she came from. The focus of your discipline should be to correct behaviour and not to punish or mistreat your child.