Being a parent is hard work. Whether you have one child or five, you may sometimes feel like you are at the end of your rope. Whether it’s a birth child, step child, adopted child or a child you care for, it’s important to learn proper discipline. Yelling, hitting, spanking and smacking are often used by parents because it is what is familiar to them. It’s all they know.
However, I always say “there is no reason to yell at a child” just like there is no reason to hit a child. As a child youth coach as well as a mother to four of my own, I have seen just about every type of child there is from the sweetest to the most difficult and challenging. The real key to discipline lies not with the child but in how the parent chooses to handle each situation. Your attitude dictates the response of the child.
The child is looking to you to set the example for how they should handle conflict resolution and these lessons you teach will stick with him from now into adulthood. If you teach problem solving through yelling or hitting, he will grow up to also believe that this is the way to get what you want.
However, when you show him more appropriate, creative ways to solve problems or conflict, he will grow up with a better method of solving his own problems. This isn’t just about having a more peaceful family life today or getting your kids to do what you want; it’s about setting the stage for them to have a positive future and be a better contribution to society.
Some ways to disciple without yelling are:
• Take a “time out” when you are angry over a situation. Allow yourself to calm down before addressing the matter with your child.
• Correct the behavior calmly. Address the negative behavior or action immediately and calmly state why it should be done. “We don’t run in the house because we can hurt ourselves or others and break things”. Ask your child to repeat it. “Why don’t we run in the house?”
• Make sure your child is looking into your eyes when you correct behavior or make requests. If not, he may not be completely listening. Children have short attention spans and can easily forget or become sidetracked.
• Pick your battles. Some things just really aren’t that important. This doesn’t mean you are to let your children get away with any and everything but sometimes it’s best to just let it slide, especially if you know it was not an intentional misdeed.
• Give your child incentive to do the right thing. Explain why good behavior is expected and why chores or other responsibilities need to be done. Often when children understand the reasoning behind it, they are much more willing to cooperate.
• Keep the emotion out of your discipline. Explain rules and the consequences of breaking those rules before hand and when an incident occurs, keep it to simple cause-and-effect. “You will be grounded because you stayed out past curfew.” Keep it simple.
Parenting is the most difficult job out there but with the right attitude and preparedness, you can be the best possible. Better parenting begins today. It’s never too early or too late to start the sowing the seeds for a better future!