What is Discipline ? What kind of Parent are you?
Every Parent wants their child(ren) to be happy, respectful, respected by others, and working towards Academic and Career Success. No-one likes to be accused of raising a spoiled brat. So, we as parents are always finding new ways and methods to discipline our child(ren) in different areas of their Life Skills, like Communication, Sitting down for Studies, How to behave in Public and with other family members and peers, etc etc. It really amazes me when I see how different Discipline can mean to different people. Now, Let’s look into what my take is into Disciplining Ridhima.
Disciplining is about helping children learn how to do things correctly and/or appropriately. Discipline is about teaching children how to behave as well as how not to behave. Discipline doesn’t always mean Punishment or Spanking(raising your hand on children to hit them). When you discipline your child in a proper way and positive environment, children will be learning to understand their behavior, how to express their feelings and manage them, how to behave in public and/or with peers and family members. These are just a few examples of what a Correct way of Disciplining can do.
Let’s first understand what kind of Parent are You?? So we can know, how to approach dicipling our child(ren).
Our responsibility as a parent is to help our child become Independent, Respectful and Self-controlled.
- An Authoritative Parent – has clear expectations and consequences and is affectionate towards their child. This parent allows for flexibility and collaborative problem solving with their child when dealing with behavorial challenges. This is the most effective way of discipling a child.
- An Authoritarian Parent – has clear expectations and consequences , but shows very little affection towards their child. The parent may say things like “ Because I’m your mother , that’s why.” Instead of teaching the child about the situation / challenge. This is a less effective way discipling a child.
- A Permissive Parent – shows lots of affection towards the child, but provides very little discipline. This is the least effective way discipling a child.
Choosing an approach to Discipline your child, by setting some Behavior Expectations :
There are three main key areas to focus on when we are choosing a way to discipline our child.
- THE ATTENTION BUCKET – It is mostly about being attentive to our child’s emotions and needs. If we don’t give attention to our children and keep their “Attention Bucket” full , then they will start to seek out any attention they can get – even negative attention. They’ll push us to our edge of patience with negative behaviors , because to a child, even a negative attention is better than no attention at all. This does not mean you have to be with your child 24/7 – 365 days. But just taking a few minutes a day without any disturbances(like TV playing in the background) and interruptions(like your notifications blinking) , will really help the child in good and positive behavior reinforcement. So its ok, if you are saying ‘No’ at the right time or imposing consistent rules in the household. But what makes it worse is, Ignoring the child, and letting him be watching cartoons or whatever.The worst situation for a child is the IGNORANCE they receive from their parents, for their needs and processing of emotions. Hence, always remember to fill their “Attention Bucket” every single day, by doing the activities they love to do like playing outdoors or indoor, reading their favorite book, making a special snack for them which they devour, listening and talking to them and such small things make bigger impacts. And it only helps in disciplining them for the better.
- Time for Learning – This basically means giving them ample time to learn and practice any new skill or behavior you have taught them earlier. Never expect from a child, that he will be doing as you ask him to do, at the first instance. Scientifically, it takes time to understand what is expected of us at any given situation, then to process that information in the brain and then to take a decision to behave as said, or to not, using the cognitive skills. So, give them the time to think and act as per the situations. They may not remember or fail at times, hold their hand and re-teach them . Parents needs to think about situations from children’s point of view as well. We need to show empathy and understand the ‘why’ behind their certain behaviors. Sometimes, children are not able to understand and control their own emotions. So, they need their parents or other close Adult to get back their emotional balance. We can also teach our children to name the emotions and feelings like “ Upset” , “Angry”, “Frustrated” , “Excited” , so they know how to express themselves when they are going through such Emotional Breakdowns/Over-Excitement. Another situation is “To leave a child to cry alone , so he will learn how to behave.” I find this very weird behavior from the parent /adults. If you feel, the child if faking a cry then give him/her 5-7minutes and observe from a distance. But if the cry continues, then address it immediately, because it is not a fake situation. Take the child close to you, hug, give a kiss, label their emotion and suggest them an open ended answer to their problem, so they get to choose what they can do for such kind of problems. Physical Touch on a daily basis helps a lot in Disciplining them.
- Setting Boundaries (Never call Limits, it gives a negative feeling) – Do you know, kids actually like having some structure to their day and having some set boundaries. Obviously, but don’t go overboard with hundreds of rules, but focus on the most important for your family. So start setting some healthy and effective boundaries from when they are babies and toddlers. This really sets the expectations clear to them ,of what will and will not be allowed to do in our Family. While setting the boundaries we should not forget to Praise for when they show good behavior. A little praise always feels like an encouragement to the child and gives a boost to their confidence. So always look into where you’re praising the child. Its important to remember to not go overboard with praise as well. Because here the child will start thinking that behaving good is for the praise they get after that. And he/she will mistaken the praise for good behavior. But again, a little praise now and then, doesn’t really hurt. While setting Boundaries, its necessary to teach them about the Natural Consequences they will have to face for any given situation. For example, some children likes to break toys ,just like that for no reason, make them aware that if they break toys , you won’t be buying them anything new and will be taking away all the toys for a week/month. If they don’t complete their school homework, they will need to face the teacher by themselves and you will not be talking to their teacher, no matter how bad he/she feels. In this way, alert them about the consequences they will have to face for not behaving properly.
How to Maintain the set Discipline at home??
- Communicate – Communication is key to a good and healthy relationship. It is one of the most important factor that can either make / break the situation. Am I right??
There are two parts of this communication which helps create a healthy bond between the two (Parent and a Child). First is LISTENING. Do you really Listen to your children, or do you keep interrupting their talks? Do you really let them finish what they have to say before giving them an advice or a solution to their problem? Or do you finish their sentences when they have a small hitch in forming sentences to tell you? I bet you do, atleast one of these. Because , I know I have done it in the past. When you will actually start to listen to your children, you will be amazed at their observations and their ever-growing knowledge. And then using their examples and observations it will be so easy to teach them. And ultimately, Discipline them. The second part of Communication is actually , COMMUNICATING/ TALKING to your child, every single day. Be a part of their lives. Ask them questions, take interests in their stories, be a part of their play and adventure, let them know, that they are valuable to us(parents). Talk to your child about why you can’t/won’t be purchasing every new toy you see in the shop, Talk to them about their safety on the road, and why they must hold hands of the adults with them, Talk to them about why going to school everyday is important, what happens when you go to school, Talk to them about why a uniform is necessary in schools, Talk to them about why they should be studying everyday, Talk to them about how education is important and Talk to them about so many everyday questions and situations like these. They are not born knowing answers to these. So just punishing or spanking them for these reasons without actually communicating and leading by example is A Parent’s fault and not the child.
- Be respectful of Your child – Respect their decisions, unless there’s a threat to their Saety. Even if its as small as what game to play with. Ask them what they would like to eat, and what they would like to wear. When you give the freedom of choice to children to some extent, they will listen to your ‘NO’ when its really needed. If you start saying No for almost about everything, they will also to start to resent to your choices and sooner they will believe that you want to control their life, which is not our goal as a Parent. So be respectful of your children, be it babies, toddlers or school age children. They must be treated as individuals.
- Be Consistent – When it’s a NO, it’s a NO, no matter the situation. If it’s a boundary of not watching any screens during the meal times, its not watching the screens during ALL the meal times. You can’t say yes, in the morning breakfast and say no at night dinner, because you want them to sleep early. Be consistent throughout their journey.
One last note, before we wrap up this post up. As parents we must understand what’s an appropriate Discipline for our own child. So before taking any decisions regarding disciplining them, understand what the child needs at the age and stage of Life he is at. A toddler will need to be handled very differently, than a school age student and than a teenager.
Understand and Respond !!! Not React !!
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Tell me what you think and add your experiences below in the comments.