Disciplining Children – Correcting Bad Behavior

Depending on whom you ask or where you go for advice when it comes to how to discipline children you will receive millions of different tidbits or advice on tried and true methods that are assured to work. Yeah Right? The reason that no one person can deliver a perfect discipline solution that works 100% of the time is because as we discipline our children we are dealing with something as individual as snowflakes. Children do share many of the same traits as one another but there is always a thing or two that makes them tick differently. Sorry, Super Nanny but I want to see the out-takes from the show before I will even begin to buy the theory that the naughty chair really works for all.

Good discipline does consist of some very basic things. First it must be consistent; meaning that kids can’t have a food fight in the house on Wednesday – but get in trouble for it on Friday when mom or dad is extra tired and grumpy. That would be like the state patrol posting new speed limits on the interstate daily. It doesn’t make sense. Discipline should also be valuable in teaching the child something aside from the fact that they were bad or mis-behaved. By definition it should teach them or train them in a certain acceptable behavior or core value. Punishment and discipline are not one in the same. Even if a child sits for an hour in time out, if they haven’t learned what they did that was wrong and even more importantly why it was wrong- then you have taught them little more than how to occupy themselves.

Third and probably most important is that all good discipline must be rooted in love; not anger, frustration, moodiness, stress, fear, anxiety, disappointment or any other negative place where the parent may be. We discipline because we love them and the point of discipline is to eventually nurture and invoke their own internal parameter of right and wrong that will enable them to make good decisions of their own. Many kids remember the punishment but are clueless to the crime and if this is the case than the discipline we are choosing is not helpful but detrimental at best! Spanking would be like curing a hangover with another beer; ridiculous – and doesn’t make good sense at all! As the adults it is up to us to choose discipline that makes a difference in their ability to register acceptable behavior versus unacceptable behavior.

Probably the best way to decide if the discipline in our home works is to see if any progress is being made in curbing the undesirable behavior. Often times discipline can be as simple as a stern talking to explaining the implications of what a child does and the child will never seek to do it again. Just like us when we know better, we do better kids are the same. Not only is it understandable that they don’t know better all the time, after all they are fairly new inhabitants to this world it is also fair to mention that children rarely have the ability or necessity to see beyond the present moment. As we parents sit on the side lines we can certainly visualize how stealing another child’s candy can lead to jail time in the future and YES it is our job to correct it; but attempting to blame a kid for not understanding consequence is unnecessary. Not long ago they were pooping in their own pants to avoid having to miss out on a couple extra minutes of time outside playing. They definitely don’t see around corners yet!

Disciplining children does not have to be a big deal. Keeping in mind the snowflake analogy, all children are very different and all children react differently in varied situations. When it comes to discipline at home it should be something that works for the child and not something that you read in a book or saw on television. Fewer parents seem to be able to understand that the little life they are entrusted with is their responsibility and that they are truly 100% competent to make decisions on how to raise their own child. Simply by paying attention to what works and what doesn’t we can make simple alterations in our discipline methods that are sure to suit the individual child in our life. The 3 rules above still apply but every parent can tailor their own form of discipline within those guidelines and find something that works. Perhaps for your child it is the naughty chair. Perhaps it is taking a privilege away. Perhaps it is more than or less than one of those options or perhaps it is something completely individualized to your child. The trick is getting results!

If you are getting results – than discipline is working. Another great way to identify with your discipline methods is to watch how your child plays with their toys and disciplines in imagination. There is nothing more telling than that. A child who lines up their stuffed animals and berates them, points a nasty finger and yells at the bear for being mean to the duck, spanking them on the bottom or threatening to do it, is obviously learning a lot more about negative behavior than they are about positive behavior. Likewise, if they say things that typical parents say you will get a momentary glimpse of how it is you really sound to your child. Children do not lie in their imaginations and by watching them you will learn much about your own parenting style. If you are curious about your perception, ask your child to role play with their toys or set up a scenario for them and see how they would handle it. You may be surprised about what you find out.

Disciplining children is not one of the fun parts of parenting. It would be much easier to ignore certain things to avoid the tears and fits and just write it off to them being young and immature. Obviously we can’t do that because we are raising future citizens of this world that need to understand the principles behind discipline so that at some point in their life they will be able to self-discipline. If we remain consistent, are clear about the rules in the home and follow through on doing what we say we will children will respond. Children always gravitate more towards pleasing us and finding ways to get extra attention and love. Children want their parents to be proud of them and dote on them unconditionally. Probably when you realize how a child glows when they are being loved you will be able to find some form of discipline that works from that same spot and encourages positive behavioral results from your child. If not there is no harm in pulling out the naughty chair and allowing them to sit for a spell just to see if it in fact works. It never has for me, but then again I am not the Super nanny!’ That being said, I am off to hide from the Super Nanny before she commits to putting me in the naughty chair for a quick but meaningful timeout – which quite frankly is not such a bad idea at the moment!



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