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Disciplining Your Child without Losing Your Cool

Deb McCarson

We’ve all been there. Our child decides to throw a tantrum in the supermarket when we are in a rush because we have forty-seven other things to do before the day is over. There is just no time for this. It is in these inconvenient, high-stress moments that we are less likely to discipline wisely because our time and attention are in high demand. We are tempted to take the easy path, perhaps bribing him to make him behave. Or worse, we respond in anger. We want the tantrum to stop, and though our better selves know we need to discipline him, we also know that giving him a lollipop will make him behave for a moment and provide a necessary reprieve so we can keep our anger in check and get out the door. However, neither the anger nor the lollipop will prevent such a thing from happening again, in fact, they will only encourage it. In order to prevent a cycle of misbehavior we need to establish a discipline plan that will be there when we need it. A child throwing a tantrum in the store is no match for a confident, well-prepared parent.

Some parents tend to think of discipline as the immediate reaction to misbehavior and associate it with punishment and control. However, the goal of discipline should be to change behavior, not punish children. Discipline includes forming patterns of behavior that will help children manage life effectively. This involves providing structure by establishing daily routines, creating family rules, and following through with the rewards of living by them and the consequences of deviating from them. Structure limits time for misbehavior, and when a child does misbehave, parents will be less likely to respond in anger because there is another option. This is important because consistently disciplining children in anger will result in some pretty bad consequences. According to a study published by The Society for Research in Child Development, children whose mothers frequently express anger become more difficult to discipline. Angry discipline creates undisciplined children.

Instead, be prepared to handle misbehavior. Discuss family rules before making them. Let your children in on this process. Ask them what rules they think are necessary and why. You might be surprised at what they come up with. Before establishing the rules, understand and consider your child’s developmental stages so you are not expecting too much. Don’t make too many rules. Rules should be clear, concise, and age appropriate, not overwhelming. Once you have established your rules, explain them to your children, along with the negative consequences for breaking them and the positive consequences for following them.

The well-prepared parent has an alternative to responding in anger. Recognize when you are about to discipline your child in anger, take a deep breath, and think I must control myself before controlling my child. Instead of responding in anger, administer the appropriate, pre-planned discipline calmly and firmly, ignoring any reactions or complaints from the offending child. Remember, you’re the grown up. You can handle it.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 May 2017 19:15

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