By Susan Gestal, LPC
Discipline, there’s a word that causes some of us to panic; it may even bring up negative memories or fear.
Let me put a positive spin on discipline. Discipline provides loving responses and limits that allow our children the opportunity to grow and mature in a safe and healthy environment. Does that sound better?
Discipline is NOT about you (the adult). It is not about what others will think of you because of your child’s behavior. Discipline is about what is best for your child.
Here are five general guidelines:
1- Make sure the behavior you expect is reasonable for the age and maturity of your child.
· Do not discipline for childish behavior. Children spill things, and forget things, they shouldn’t be disciplined for these things unless done defiantly.
2- Make sure your child understands the desired behavior and the consequences.
· Use natural consequences whenever possible!
· Make sure the consequences are reasonable.
· Consequences are best when they are immediate.
· Keep them short term.
3- Follow through: be consistent. This is a tough one; nobody is consistent all of the time. Still the truth remains, the more consistent you are, the easier it will be for both you and your child.
4- Stay emotionally connected with your child in the midst of discipline- do NOT withdraw love or relationship! Empathize with your child. It is possible to get children to behave out of fear of punishment or loss of relationship- BUT this does not bring us closer to our goal.
5- Expect resistance. Your job is to set reasonable loving limits; your child’s job is to test those limits. When establishing new limits expect strong resistance. Once your child realizes you are serious the resistance will decrease.
There it is- Discipline in 300 words- but it’s not easy!