In my last post, The Joy of Being a Compassionate Parent, I mentioned that “compassion is not about allowing children to do whatever they want. It is not about letting them get away with anything they do” – which gave me the idea for today’s post – the value of Discipline.
Just like you and me, children need discipline in their lives to be their best selves. The good news is they actually want it. Children love routine. Without it, they feel alone and unloved. While they expect parents to set the limits, they also think it is their birth right to rebel against them. That being said, it is the parent’s job to set limits related to safety, health, education, morality and inspire cooperation.
Easier said than done, you might say. It is not that hard, though. Problems with discipline usually crop up in the form of irritation from a physical cause such as hunger, lack of sleep or some feeling of discomfort. Have you noticed that when you meet your child’s physical needs and yours, the world looks like a better place? The same goes for emotional discomfort due to restlessness and usually, disappointment over something. Parents who yell or put down their children and worse – use physical violence – will only make things worse, causing pain for both and messing up this beautiful relationship forever.
How to implement discipline?
“Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes”. – Chinese Proverb
Obviously discipline is a long-term job. Unless it has to do with safety–related issues, discipline is almost always related to more than one behavior. The idea, then, is to nurture a set of behaviors over time. Here are some ways that have helped me:
- Emphasizing the value of cooperation, explaining how it can benefit the child in the long run. I’ve noticed that simply telling my son to do something may or may not bring the desired response, but when I explain why he must do something and the consequences of not doing it, he would almost always happily do it. Allowing him the choice would make a big difference, as children naturally want to be good.
- Focusing on what we want and not what we don’t want. Rather than shout at them to do something, it is better to give proper instructions. And no nagging about how they messed up the last time. In this context, history is something no child enjoys being reminded of. Instead, praise them for something they did very well. Encourage them.
- Never disciplining in anger. All feelings are temporary. Why say or do something you might later regret? Focus on the behaviour while disciplining and not on your emotional state. Yes, I’ve yelled and then hugged and apologized.
- Helping children cooperate by asking them for ideas. I’ve found getting them to participate is one of the best ways. You never know when your child might solve a parenting problem.
One major issue at my place, for a short while, was the time my son spent at the computer. So my son is not a fan of computer games, thankfully, but at that particular time, he was crazy about folk tales and could spend hours looking for new ones. He sometimes went way beyond the time cap of two hours. Controlling my urge to let off steam, I cooled down and asked him what we should do the next time he did this. Promptly came the answer “refuse to let me sit at the computer”. Deprivation. Hmm. Out of the mouths of babes. Enough said. He also became conscious of keeping track of time.
My most important tip – and learning – would be something my Mom taught me in the way she related with me. Whenever she had to pull me up for something, she would tell me that my behavior is a choice. I have the power to choose good – or bad – behavior. She would handhold me over the consequences of each choice and the response it was likely to evoke in others. This kept my dignity intact instead of making me feel bad.
As I said earlier, we all want to be seen as positive people with good qualities. Children are no different.
Of course they will drive you crazy, but don’t stay mad for too long. Above all, ask yourself, “Can I take this if I were a child?” If you said yes, congratulations!
Happy Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to say your “I love you’s” to those you love.
What is your experience in introducing/implementing discipline? Please do share.
Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom who relishes the joy of parenting and growing up with her son. She is a freelance writer, business blogger and social media enthusiast and loves DIY, Coffee, Music, Photography, Family, Friends and Life. She believes that Happiness is a DIY Project. She blogs at www.vidyasury.com and tweets as @vidyasury.