When our children were babies, it was hard to imagine that we would ever have the need to punish them. We dreaded the reality that at some point, they would soon be toddlers, developing their own personalities and exhibiting good and unfortunately, bad behavior. We have so many fears when it comes to discipline. Am I doing it right? Is it enough? What if I do something to make it worse?
There are many studies surrounding discipline and punishment. What if we were to approach discipline from a different angle. Instead of looking at discipline as a form punishment, we should accept discipline as teaching. The word discipline is actually derived from the Greek word that means “teaching and learning”.
When we realize that punishment only addresses the bad behavior at the moment, we discover that while it is a short-term solution, it has long-term effects. Children regularly punished for misbehaviors instead of being taught why the actions were bad eventually pull away and distance themselves from their families.
Here are some tips on how to shift from discipline as punishment to discipline as teaching:
Think of Yourself as a Teacher
As parents, our kids are constantly learning from us. What we do has more weight than what we say. When we treat our children with respect, they will treat us and others with respect. Think of yourself as your child's teacher with lessons to teach about good manners and appropriate behavior.
2. Create an Environment for Learning
When you give praise and highlight the positive more than punish, kids don’t focus on the negative and the home feels like a safe place. This sense of security encourages learning because they trust that those in it have their best interest at heart.
3. Communicate Why Correct Behavior is Important
Teach the right behavior by telling your kids the appropriate was to act instead of dictating what they shouldn’t be doing. Explain the negative impact of their misbehavior. Very rarely do punishments like time-outs or extra chores result in the bad behavior not being repeated.
4. Spend Time Together
To build positive relationships with our children, we need to be present. As parents, we lead busy lives. But when our kids feel that we are too busy and inaccessible, they often misbehave to get our attention. Spend time with your kids, be ready to talk and prepared to listen.
5. Praise Often
Don’t let good behavior go unnoticed. When we make the mistake of only disciplining our children when they have done something wrong rather than constantly praising them when they are constantly good, they may be lead them to believe that the only acts worth your attention are bad behavior.
6. Teach Them How To Behave
You cannot just expect your kids to be good. They need to be taught how to behave properly. Before entering a toy store, explain to your child that they are going to see a lot of toys that they will like. However, you are not there to buy anything for themselves but to choose a gift for their cousin. Emphasize that it is their responsibility to pick out the best toy that they know their cousin will absolutely love. Tell them that you understand that they will see a lot of things that they will like for themselves and that they will need to be patient for when it is their turn.
7. Explain Why It Is Important
Teach your kid the importance of the lesson you are teaching them. Talk to your child about the importance of being patient and waiting their turn. Parents who don’t explain to children why they are entering a toy store and not buying something for that child may end up with their kid on the floor throwing a tantrum.
8. Model the Behavior
When you walk around the toy store and find something you feel your child may like, say, “Isn’t this nice? I would put this on my wishlist!”
The next time you are with your child in your favorite shop just browsing, show your child an item that you would like to buy someday. Tell them that you’re going to take a photo of it and put it on your wishlist. You’re going to wait for a special occasion to buy it for yourself and work extra hard to save up for it.
As parents, there is always a chance for us to learn. And when we learn and recognize that teaching is a powerful channel for discipline, we will enjoy a more positive and nurturing process that benefits both our kids and us.