DISCIPLINE. It is a big word that seems to have many meanings and so much information and confusion swirling around it. What is it? How do I do it? What is the right way? It can all be very daunting.
Here is a quick breakdown of what discipline is, and how to implement it. Some of these tips may be very surprising. They may be new and take practice, but stick with it and they will change your home.
It begins earlier than you think.
Since discipline is about teaching a life lesson, it begins as soon as kids can use life lessons. That can be as early as eight months. I will wait as you pick your jaw up off of the floor.
Yup, eight months. Now remember, discipline is not punishment, it is about teaching life lessons, so eight months is not so crazy. Ya know those times when your baby plays that “I can make you pick it up” game? That’s the one where they throw a toy on the floor and you pick it up. And they throw a toy on the floor and you pick it up. And they throw a toy on the floor and you pick it up.
Well, when you do not want to play the game anymore, you put the toy away so she cannot throw it. That is discipline. If your eight-month-old is banging on the glass table with a hard toy after you show her where and how to play, and you take the toy away, that is discipline.
The goal is not what you think.
So, as I mentioned before, discipline is about teaching life lessons. It is also about not only getting rid of unwanted behaviors, it is also about replacing them with desired ones. It is not about showing your authority, or about frightening your kid, or teaching her who is boss. While you are in charge, I like to say that you are the captain of your team – not the king/queen of your castle or boss of your house. The goal of discipline is to give your kids valuable skills like accountability, kindness, understanding, and responsibility. The goal is not to prove that you are in charge OR frighten your kids into being good. The goal is to mentor positive behaviors.
The approach is not what you think.
When you approach discipline, the calmer that you are, the better it works. Many folks might be thinking right now, “What? Don’t I need to be loud and angry to get my point across? If I am not loud, they won’t know how serious I am.”
Actually, yelling causes two things: One is that your kids will shut down. Just think about what you do when someone yells at you. Many of us just close off, stop listening, and/or get so emotionally overwhelmed that we just want to leave the situation and begin to think about how to make that happen.
The second is that they get so used to you yelling that they tune it all out. Calm, quiet, and clear is the key.
How to implement it is not what you think.
OK, let’s put it all together. Discipline, since it is about teaching life lessons, must involve consequences and ones that are are logical and connected to the offense at hand. Here are some examples of illogical and connected consequences:
“You didn’t eat your vegetables, so no toy trains for you tonight.”
“You yelled at me, so no ice cream for you today.”
So if you can’t do THOSE things, what CAN you do? Here ya go:
“You didn’t eat your vegetables, you must be full. If you get hungry later, they will be here for you.” Your child will not get to eat snacks or treats, but that is not the main focus. The big focus is on eating the healthy foods. Kids do not have to finish everything, but they must eat the nutritious foods, foods that help them grow, before snack foods.
“You yelled at me. We do not yell in this house. If you are upset, tell me calmly why. If you keep yelling at me I will walk away. I do not want to be yelled at. If you keep yelling, we will not be able to go to the park. I can’t take a yelling child to the park. That is not safe for everyone’s feelings.” The idea is to impart the notion that the emotions are OK, but the yelling is not.
“You threw the block. I told you blocks are for building and throwing blocks is not a safe choice. I was clear and said that if you threw the block, you would lose the privilege to play blocks. My job is to keep everyone and everything safe. Throwing blocks is not safe.”
Were you surprised?
Brandi Davis, ACC, is a professional Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and be sure to catch her parenting podcasts on iTunes. The goal of Brandi’s practice is to bring respect, calm communication, teamwork, and FUN into the home or classroom. To discover all that Child and Family Coaching can bring to your family stop by www.childandfamilycoaching.com.
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