Many parents don’t know how to properly discipline their children. They incorrectly assume that discipline means punishment. But, it does not. Discipline is long-term training on how to behave in response to a situation or series of events.
As parents, it’s our job to teach our children the best way to handle things. That’s where discipline comes in. If all you do is punish a child, then he or she won’t develop the tools they need to be successful adults.
Sounds easy. But it’s not—especially when you’re exhausted and frustrated by your child’s behavior. So, what’s a parent to do?
1. Establish a strong parent child relationship.
The key to effective discipline is having a strong parent child relationship. When children don’t feel a connection to us, you can expect their behavior to be worse.
2. Try to understand what’s behind the behavior.
Sometimes children don’t have the words they need to express how they feel. Instead, they act on their emotions. Try to understand what’s causing them to misbehave until they learn better ways to respond to what they are feeling.
3. Don’t give up.
Training takes time, so work with your child until she masters a task. In other words, don’t just focus on stopping the bad behavior; focus on training her to react differently.
4. Appropriately stand your ground.
Be nice, but strict; kind, but firm. Discipline should be respectful, positive, and empathetic.
5. Model positive behaviors.
It’s easy to blow your cool when your child acts up. But try and keep your emotions in check. Remember that your children learn from watching you. So, if you get angry and start screaming, they will think it is okay to do that, too.
6. Be consistent.
Consistently handling things is very important. Do not give in—it perpetuates the bad behavior.
7. Give them choices.
When you offer choices, you are setting limits. And limits help children gain self control. For example when your children are little, give them little choices. Say, “Do you want an apple or an orange?” Offer bigger choices as your children grow. Say, “Do you plan to be home at 10 or 10:30?”