Top tools to ensure discipline
by Carmen M. Schnider-Kemp
The contrast of Valentinesday against a recent poll on a South African Radio station about physically punishing or not inspired the research for the tools below. Whether you are pro or against spanking, I found the techniques below worth pondering upon.
Behavior of the new kids and some tips of top psychologists for parents of 21st century children.
Keeping your temper
Yeah, right. Your toddler has just re-decorated your lounge with two dozen liquid eggs. She wanted to find the one that is boiled. Adults and children respond better to a calm explanation. Yelling is unpleasant so the recepient learns to switch off. The more you yell, the quicker you teach people around you to tune you out. Kids that have not a bombproof temperament become intimidated which assists to develop lack of self-esteem and lack of confidence.
Treating children age appropriate
No need to leave a 4 year old on the chair (time-out method) for 5 - 20 min. They are often not equipped to calm themselves down and to expect them to do so alone is unreasonable. Once you made your point with the time-out and have given them a short while (5 min. is too long for a 4 year old unless you need to calm yourself down first) then help them and give them a hug, assure them that they are still loved although their behavior was not acceptable. Positive reinforcement, redirecting, time-outs, verbal instructions and explanations work well up to 3 years old. The previous ones plus establishment and negotiation of rules, witholding privilieges and grounding works for 4 - 12 year olds. Chair time will hardly produce results with a teenager. Positive reinforcement, verbal instruction/explanation, establishment of rules, witholding privileges and grounding will show better effects.
If the punishment by far exceeds the "crime", your children's focus is on the unfair punishment. Carefully take a deep breath when your child misbehaves and look for the issue. Is it hers or yours? Does she act up because you are tense? Children under the age of seven often mirror their parents feelings. Does she act up because she does not have enough time with you? Does she come down with a flu and is extra niggly? Then maybe she just needs a hug and reassurance not punishment. Is it material stuff that got broken due to careless behavior? What do you do when your 5 year old drew a lovely picture on the snowlayer of your new cars door which of course is visible now that the snow melted? Be careful that you don't teach your child he is worth less than material stuff.
If you set the rules together and involve your kids, they are more intend to respect the rules. Of prime importance: you are still the parent. Smoking pot at 12, damaging people's property or any other unreasonable behavior needs to be addressed. Your strong guidance is needed to make this successful. Involving your kids does not mean to let them rule. It means showing them respect by letting them contribute. If you struggle with this concept ponder the rules of leadership. A strong, good leader does not let her team ruin themselves. She will get the teams contributions yet keeping the reins in her hands. The team-members are more motivated due to their contributions and will stick to the rules. Only for adults? Should see how my four year old controls herself where she used to smack and lash out. We co-created the rule of smacking and its consequence - no reminders from my side necessary.
If you worry about loosing control, give it a try with something harmless first. Put a behavior that is really disliked up for discussion. Explain why it bothers you. Show what happens if their space were invaded with this behavior or switch to role play. Get them to walk in dad's or mums shoes. Get consensus and co-create a rule. Then collect ideas as to what the consequence is for breaking the new rule. If all of you stick to the new rule, you just earned a stack of respect from your children that no enforced or dictatorial parentingstyle could ever match.
Be consistent and united
If your rules are slack one day and dictatorial the next, you are breeding insecurity instead of raising a well adjusted child. Being a parent is tough, we need to take our personal stuff out of the equation and switch back to neutral. After all, your children aren't to blame if you lost the important deal or your boss had a Blue Monday. When you and your partner disagree on discipline, do it in calm waters out of earshot of your children. Parents are always examples and role-models wether they like it or not. Fighting in front of your children is setting the parameters for your child's future behavior. How is your child going to learn any form of respect if you cannot demonstrate it to each other in front of your child? Agree to disagree and respect each others modus operandi. That does not mean one parent can allow the child to eat sweets all day and the other parent says sweets only on Thursdays. It means you can have different opinions about how you are going to handle it when your child brakes a rule as long as you then each make your parameters clear and negotiate these individual terms. That can also teach your child that it is ok to differ, that there is more than one solution to every problem and that if all is negotiated there need not be winners and loosers.
United you shall stand as a family
Carmen M. Schnider-Kemp