5 important things to ask before disciplining your children
Be a more effective parent by asking yourself these five questions before disciplining your children.
As parents, disciplining your children can be tricky. On one hand, you will want to make sure you do your part in teaching them good behavior and values. At the same time, the process can be an emotionally exhausting test of patience.
One of the challenges in disciplining your children is making sure that your words and actions are all within reason. What you say and do, even the consequences that you impose on your children for bad behavior, should match their understanding of right and wrong.
It is also easy to get carried away with your own frustrations when it comes to disciplining your children. This is why you should stop to assess yourself and your methods every once in a while. You can start by asking yourself these five important questions.
1. What’s the big deal?
Your child has misbehaved, and you are upset about it. Before you say or do anything, think about how big of a deal his misbehavior actually is. This is not a question that is easily answered, but by determining whether or not you are facing a real issue here can help you decide what next steps to take, or if it's just best to let go.
2. Is this just my kid being a kid?
As you think about whether or not the misbehavior of your child is a big deal, also consider that this could simply be your child being a child. This is particularly important when you are a parent of very small kids. Sometimes, disciplining your children requires managing your own expectations.
For example, a two-year-old may not really understand why it is wrong to stick fingers into sockets or electric fans. You also should not expect a toddler to sit quietly in “time out” for several minutes just because you said so.
Go to the next page for three more questions to ask yourself when disciplining your children.
3. Are my rules reasonable and appropriate?
After you have assessed how much of right and wrong your children are really able to understand, think about the rules that you have set at home. Are these reasonable and appropriate for your kids at this age?
You should make sure that you have communicated your rules clearly to your children, and that they know that these rules need to be followed. To avoid confusion, you and your partner should also be on the same side when it comes to disciplining your children. Being consistent is very important.
4. Am I disciplining or punishing?
There is a difference between disciplining your children and punishing them. With discipline, you aim to guide your child to do what is right, focusing on teaching them accordingly. Punishment serves more as a restraint against bad behavior, without really focusing on the lessons tied to it.
Before sending kids off for a “time out” (or better yet, try the "time-in"), grounding them, or confiscating their toys and gadgets, talk to them and explain why you are doing this. Make them understand that what they did was wrong, and why it is so. Show them that there are consequences to face when they behave badly.
5. Do I have my anger under control?
Patience and restraint are key ingredients in successfully disciplining your children. It is easier to think and act objectively when you are calm. You also have a better chance of getting through to your kids if you approach them in a non-confrontational manner instead of screaming.
Practice self-control by concentrating on managing yourself first, rather than controlling your children. After all, the best way to teach children is by example. Be disciplined enough yourself to not do anything in front of them that you wouldn't want them to do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia de Castro-Cuyugan
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