One of the toughest jobs a parent has is as disciplinarian. It's easy to get swept up in emotion and add stressed, over worked, and over tired to the mix and you'll find yourself yelling and telling your kids to go to their rooms and not to come out 'til they're 30! Here are a few tips on how to deal with disciplining your kids.
This is not a referendum on spanking and having a discussion on how to discipline your child doesn't have to be a to spank or not to spank talk. What techniques you use, are up to you as parents. But the key to a good discipline is consistency.
- First develop a punishment scale. Not every crime deserves the same punishment. So, don't give small missteps the same consequence as major ones. If you do, there is nothing to keep your child from acting out in a big way; and you'll forever need to think of bigger and badder punishments for them.
- Avoid open-ended punishment. Make sure the consequence has an specific end time. Whether that's sitting in time out for 5 minutes or no TV for a week, having a set ending for punishments makes disciplining easier for you and the child. This helps keep infractions separate and you can be sure you are properly doling out punishment. It also keeps your child from feeling stuck in an endless cycle, where they need to be perfect. For example if you've taken away the TV for a week and your child misbehaves on the next to the last day, instead of adding another week of no TV, trying taking away phone or internet privileges. This way they feel the immediate sting of losing another privilege, in two days they get back the TV but still have to wait another 4 days for the phone.
- Breathe. Take some time before doling out the sentence. In the heat of the moment we may not realize what is actually going on. Take a moment, you may remember that you took the frame off the shelf while cleaning and were distracted by a phone call when you told the kids to go play in the den -- Or that your son only hit his sister after being tormented about his new braces for an hour. Do the kids still need to be disciplined yes, but not to the same degree as if these acts were deliberate or unprovoked.
- Reverse the Strategy. Reward the good behavior with lots of praise and attention. You don't have to bribe them or to shower them with expensive gifts for things like doing homework and cleaning their room. But noticing your kids when they do things right will help keep them from doing things wrong. Try things like letting a avid reader get an extra story at bedtime every day they have their homework done on time and their bed made, or let an outdoorsy kid get ten extra minutes of play just because she asked nicely and didn't whine.
- Stick to it. Don't let your kids out of a punishment just because you're sick of them being in the house, or because you want to go out. This only teaches children that if they make a nuisance of themselves they'll never really have to finish out a sentence. Instead try a "work-release" program, where they can earn time off their punishment by exhibiting not just good behavior, but unselfish behavior. For example, for every hour they help clean the yard, sort recycling, etc., they get back an hour of playtime.
- Don't make family time a punishment. As kids get older time with their friends becomes more and more important, but don't try not to force children to spend time with the family because they acted out in school. The last thing you want is for your kids to hate spending time with you as a family.
- Be a Role Model! Modeling good behavior for your kids is prime. Treat them with respect and they will being to show respect to others, their friends and to you! Kids are smart and they pick up on things very quickly. Soon you will see a positive shift with less and less time and effort spent on correcting bad behavior.