There is no single, surefire way to discipline kids because each kid’s needs vary just as much their parent’s discipline styles. The next time you get frustrated that your child doesn’t seem to be following what you say, try rethinking your approach.
First, it’s important to remember the old saying that goes “you will attract more bees with honey rather than vinegar.” The approach that’s often more effective is the kind and friendly one, even when it comes to discipline. Form commands and instructions in polite ways that still empower your child. Don’t pressure them or be too imposing.
Give them choices
Another thing to avoid are power struggles. Compromise. If you’re asking your child to do something, give them a choice. These options should mostly be about when or how they want to follow your instruction. Acknowledge your child’s need to assert independence or gain control by offering them options.
For instance, if you want them to brush their teeth, ask them when they prefer to do it–immediately or after a few minutes.
If you want them to wear a jacket before going out, let them choose which color.
“Of course, you can’t always give your child choices because you would never get out of the house on time,” clarifies Dr. Alan E. Kazdin, a psychology professor at Yale University in an interview with Parents.com. “But do it whenever you can.”
Watch your tone
It’s important to note the way you speak; your tone matters. Studies have found that children tend to be more cooperative when instructions are phrased in a “pleasant tone of voice.”
“When you’re giving your child instructions, it’s also crucial to be very clear about what you want her to do — she should be able to picture the behavior in her mind,” says Dr. Kazdin. “Please go into the den and clean up all the crayons on the table,” instead of, “Didn’t I ask you to clean up your crayons?” Rhetorical questions just set you up for more of a struggle.
Don’t forget to show your apprecation, too, by thanking your child. Appreciation goes a long way in reinforcing good behavior.
Rephrase to reinforce
Lastly, once you’ve tried giving choices and changing your tone, make sure to try rephrasing requests and questions.
For example, if you want them to clean their room avoid from saying things like, “Your room is a mess. You have 5 minutes to clean it up.” You can try a more encouraging statement like, “If your dirty clothes aren’t inside the hamper, I won’t be able to wash them. Please put them in there.”
Or instead of saying “Stop watching TV,” you can say “TV Time is over. Now let’s read our books or play outside.” Rephrase questions like, “Are you ready to leave now?” to more direct but kind commands like, “We’re leaving in a few minutes. Please get ready.”
What other statements helped you be kind and firm to your kids? Let us know in the comments below!