The word discipline (when used for parenting) refers to the correction of an inappropriate behavior of a child which may or may not be accompanied by some form of punishment. There are many ways that are practiced in various countries and cultures for maintaining discipline, some dating back to the birth of mankind.
Research and awareness have changed the ways we as human beings train and develop our young ones not only for survival but to make sure they turn out to be a boon for their fellow beings.
While there are many ways to discipline a child with or without punishment, time and research based outcomes have proven that methods involving corporal punishment or negative verbal cues do more harm than the good they are supposed to be doing. Since not only these ways result in shattering a child’s confidence but it harms the lovely child-parent bond and the results only last for stopping the behavior that needs to be corrected.
For a method to be effective it should reinforce the positive behavior that is expected from the child e.g. instead of yelling at a child who messed his clothes while he painted, we as parents should think of ways to move the child in the positive direction by saying: what a beautiful painting, I will be so happy if you keep your apron on before you paint.
Here are 10 ways that can be used to discipline a child without punishment:
1. Reflection Time:
A child is made to sit in an already decided area every time he/she does something inappropriate and is encouraged to think over the misbehavior on his part and then asked for an apology to the parent (some parents use an actual thinking cap that is put on the child’s head during this time). This method provides a time out for (both the parent and the child) to cool down and calms the situation.
2. Reinforcing positive behaviors:
Positive behaviors are rewarded with praise/appreciation, so the child is reminded and made to understand exactly what is expected of him/her.
3. Rewards chart:
This technique uses the recognition/reward needs fulfillment and works well especially when there is more than one child in a family. It uses the spirit of competing while incorporating fun as the child completes a series of desirable behaviors e.g. brushing twice a day and making their own bed for a week gets the child a star on the rewards chart.
4. Walk the talk:
Easier said than done but it’s one of the most powerful method used since olden times to enforce discipline, e.g. A child will never eat healthy when the parents try to correct the junk food habit if they themselves indulged in a junk diet. Observation helps enforce behavior more than words do.
5. Be consistent and clear on rules:
Sometimes we as parents often make rules and don’t remain consistent on them. This confuses/encourages the child not to follow discipline, e.g. if a child is asked to finish a meal and he takes ages to do so then there should be certain rules like after 30 minutes I’m going to clear the table. But if the parents just keep saying that and the food is still available to the child, the child knows he can play with the parents. If he knows from day 1 that I have certain time to finish my meal, then things are clear on both ends that a meal is supposed to be finished within 30 minutes.
6. Time ins:
Another very effective way to discipline is called Time in i.e. you and your child stay close and talk till you understand what is wrong and try to gather information about the reasons behind the child’s behavior and feelings. Parents should ask children by hugging/cuddling them what they were feeling when they did a certain undesired act, and what the parent expects from them. This is a wonderful way to avoid meltdowns.
7. Firm and clear tone for instructions:
Parents should know when to use that angel soft voice and when not to use it. It is agreed that yelling is never a good option but occasionally, when nothing works, it’s very important that the parent instructs the child to follow the discipline; e.g. when it’s bed time, the parenst can’t compromise on the child’s sleep if he/she happens to be in a mood to play etc., a simple “Bed Time” in a firm tone with a matching body language should do the trick of delivering the right message to the child.
8. Explaining the consequences/benefits:
Sometimes all it takes for a child to follow the discipline is explaining why is a certain action desirable/undesirable and needs discipline, e.g. if he loves to play after school then explain that finishing his homework will result in a favorable outcome for him, i.e. he can play as soon as he finishes homework OR if he didn’t finish the home work then he may not be allowed to play, OR he will lose the star he will receive from the teacher. This helps them make good choices and encourages their thinking process too.
9. Connect and reconnect:
Sometimes all that a child need is some me and mommy time instead of overthinking just hug, cuddle, kiss your child. Some misbehavior are just cries for attention and done intentionally to attract attention so understand when such a situation arises and enjoy the cuddle time as they grow so fast.
10. Set limits for everything but don’t forget to add a pinch of LOVE:
The beautiful and precious gems we call children need to understand their limits, but they will stay well within the limits if we as parents acknowledge their perspective too, e.g. honey I know how much you love this movie but its bed time, we can watch this on weekend, I love you!
Do you have any special way to discipline your child?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below!