Disciplining Children With Love
Knowing, Understanding, and Guiding Your Kids
By: kieransmom on: Fri 18 of May, 2007 [20:28 UTC] (4379 reads)
The word "discipline" has been used interchangeably with the word "punishment" in years past, but I think that effective discipline has much more to do with teaching a child with open communication, taking into consideration the child's abilities for their developmental stage, and guiding them toward appropriate behavior, respecting the child's individual traits, and trusting that the child will grow into a secure and independent adult.
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This article is not meant to preach, because parenting is a personal and private matter, but to offer some information that I have discovered that has helped build a harmonious relationship with my son.
Understand Your Child's Capabilities
Knowing your child is to understand your child's needs and to meet those needs, and makes for a relationship filled with mutual trust. We all have expectations of our children, so that they will grow up to be lovely and pleasant people, and so that they carry on the family name with pride.
It is so important to keep these expectations reasonable for the child's age, or more specifically, for their developmental stage. I cannot expect my preschooler to sit quietly all afternoon while I sit at my computer; I need to break up my day for him, to meet his needs, read to him, teach him the alphabet, feed him a nutritious snack, play silly games.
My child trusts that I will meet his needs and that I enjoy being with him. And I trust that while I take some time to write this article, he is coloring me a beautiful picture with crayons on a paper, not on the wall. If I were at the computer all day, ignoring Kieran, and I discovered that he'd drawn on the wall, I would only have my negligence to blame.
Communicate At The Child's Level
Effectively dealing with inappropriate behavior is to sit the child down in a quiet, safe space, get down to her level, and sit down beside her until she calms. Then announce in a firm voice, "In our family, we do not hit. Hitting hurts mommy. It is time for a nap now."
Getting down on the floor and looking the child in the eyes, remaining calm, will tell your child that you may not like her behavior at the time but you still love her. Once she is calm, you expect an apology for hitting you. And you expect your child to be gentle and loving in return.
If the child is old enough (developmentally ready) to sit still in the corner for a Time Out, then tell the child, "you are going into a time out for three minutes because you are being rough with the dog. I'm setting the timer." Be clear with the expectation that he is to sit quietly until the buzzer goes off.
When the time is up, then take your child by the hand, sit together on the couch, and have a discussion about playing gently with the dog. Then hug your child, tell him he is a wonderful boy and you love him, "now go give the dog a hug and tell her you're sorry."
Engaging your child to cooperate takes some effort, and it is well worth the energy and discipline. I have found that the biggest challenge of parenting is to discipline myself to be a good, patient mother.
It takes more time to enlist a toddler's assistance with picking up the house and cleaning up messes. It takes more patience to let a child participate in preparing a meal and setting the table. A little person is happiest when he feels useful, a part of the family.
And the key part in these activities is to tell your kid "please" and "thank you." How else are they going to learn manners, if they are not shown the common courtesy?
Avoid Being An Authoritarian
Explaining the process of cause and effect to your child also takes some extra energy, more than a simple and authorative "No". Why should my kid stop wobbling back on the chair just because I say "NO"; it's fun!
But if I say, "Kieran, if you don't sit properly on that chair you're going to fall back and bust your head open!" then he makes the decision to be safe not sorry. Give your child the information that he needs to be an independent, responsible person.
Give the facts, describe the problem, respect his choices. But a year and a half ago, I would have just gotten up out of my own chair to pick Kieran up and rescue him from himself (and redirect his attention to another activity), because of his lack of developmental readiness to make a decision.
The Controversial Spanking
Everyone has their own strong opinions about spankings. Again, I am not telling you how to raise your children, but I'm writing about spankings to get the idea of "gentle discipline" out there to inspire some constructive reflection on how we deal with our little ones.
Children do things that we find reproachful at times, especially when they are hungry or tired. However, most of the time when an adult spanks their children is when they are tired and stressed out themselves, and have run out steam to deal with the problem in a mature manner.
Why would I respond to my son hitting me with a spanking? I am not three, I am thirty (something)! He'd just turn around and hit me back or hit the dog!
Paying close attention to my thoughts, thinking before I speak and act toward Kieran, and maintaining self-control are my responsibilities for my son's well-being and future.