Discipline always raises a lot of questions: should I discipline my child? From what age? How do I do it? What strategies should I use? When and where should I enforce it?
When it comes to discipline, there are countless questions and answers on how best to do it. But one thing that is certain, when you are raising your child you will need to discipline them. If you don’t the outcome won’t be pretty.
There’s a famous quote in the Bible:
Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it
– Proverbs 22:6
It’s so important that we discipline our children and teach them how to behave even when they’re young. They are learning from a very young age by what we say, how we act and how we teach them, so we need to think through how best to do it. Here’s my top ten points with what’s worked well for us.
1) Discuss strategies with more experienced parents! Countless parents will have gone through the same issues before you, so make use of their expertise! I have about three more-experienced mummy friends that I ask advice from, friends that I respect and whose older children are well-behaved. If their children aren’t usually well-behaved, you may want to look for alternative advice elsewhere.
2) Be consistent. Toddlers see loop holes, if you give them a warning, stick with it, if not they probably won’t respect you next time you give the same warning.
3) Set boundaries. Make it clear to them what will happen before they do something. We’re not punishing them for behaving a certain way but rather trying to teach them not to do a particular thing, therefore giving them the warning before so that they know the consequence will hopefully avoid it happening.
4) Have a strategy that you can use anywhere. Personally I don’t like the so-called ‘naughty step’ because if there isn’t a step when you need one, that’s a problem. We use the ‘think it over spot’ which can be anywhere. We call it this because we want our son to learn to do exactly that, think about what he has done. Some parents call it a time out spot.
5) Give a minute for each year of their age when on the time out spot.
6) Use consistent methods. You may have different methods of discipline you use at different times, but try to use the same consequence for the same offence. If they don’t listen when you ask something, try not to use time out one time, removing a toy another and a stern warning the next. Teach them that for a particular action, there is a specific consequence.
7) Always end the discipline by talking to them. Tell them what they did wrong, ask for an apology, and always, always end with a hug or a kiss. I always want my son to know I discipline him because I love him.
8) Once they have said sorry, that’s it. If we are showing our children genuine forgiveness, we don’t need to bring it up again after they have apologised. Once they have said sorry that’s it, we move on.
9) If it’s not working, change it. I don’t mean if you’ve tried it just once. But if you’ve tried a particular method of discipline time after time and it is having no effect, consider doing something else.
10) Remember, discipline is done out of love. It’s your responsibility to do it as you are teaching them right from wrong, and they need teaching.
What methods have worked well for you? Leave a comment that might help other parents.