We all need to do it! Whether it’s for the kids, or for us. There are two major aspects in my opinion. And we need to take our emotional responses into account. We can really set ourselves up for success if we have considered outcomes before situations occur. The whole point is for behaviour to change.
In any parenting relationship there is an adult and there is a child or children – that IS the point of being a parent. Although we get tired and have other personal issues, or the demand of raising children is just so constant, we need to remember that the little person or people deserve to have a bigger person show that they really care. Sometimes I remember saying to myself, one of us is the adult and I’m pretty sure it isn’t the two year old…
Discipline is hard. Consistent discipline is slightly easier if we have a deliberate idea of where we want to be at the end of this parenting journey. That is the first aspect. Let’s decide ahead of time what matters and what doesn’t. You don’t make the decision how to discipline in the middle of the tantrum…
I wanted to grow people that others enjoyed, people who although self-confident and secure, still looked out for others. I wanted to establish in my children enough manners to see them through any situation and enough self-discipline to get on with life and to be the best version of themselves, that they were designed to be.
To that end, my husband and I were united. We valued efforts made by our children to communicate well, to have a go, to meet and greet, to make good decisions. We still do! But how? On a day to day basis, how do you discipline and install these worthy values? Deliberately decide together how you will affirm your offspring.
The second aspect relates to HOW we discipline – positively (affirmation) or negatively (punishment). Both have their place and are essential. Unusually for me, I will address punishment today. With the others on your team you must select how to punish children for wilful disobedience. This is when the child knows better and does the wrong thing… not accidental error.
There is a process, and having thought through the process together means that you and your team are equipped to succeed. My own confidence was built by the fact that I knew our procedure for times when things went wrong and that both parents were consistent. I suggest you deliberately establish how to punish as a first decision and review it as the children age, as you do not want to be make this decision in the heat of the moment. That’s when events escalate and we make mistakes. And we have regrets.
The path to punishment takes roughly the same course each time.
Ensure there is a clear phase of direction – your child knows what to do, or can choose to do within parameters. Be specific and be age appropriate.
Then establish clear communication when things have gone wrong, the punishment itself and then reconciliation.
Reconciliation: we believe it is vital to your children’s self knowledge to instil in them that although they may have done a bad thing THEY are not bad. This is how to do better next time…
Punishment must be appropriate to the grievance. It’s silly to take away a toy for a problem at mealtime. Isn’t it? Remember meal times are meant to be serene (yes!) and a time for really good communication. Good digestion of great nutrition, and family relationships are the goal and children must be part of this, not the centre of a tussle of wills. Decide ahead of time just which behaviours are acceptable.
From the earliest age, of any children you have, you are the adult. You decided everything from bedtime to clothing, to eating (or rather feeding) to which books. You also respond to their crying and nappy needs, because YOU are the adult. You are disciplined in looking out for their needs.
This soon expands to asking their opinion. In the early stages you still decide all the big things. You can ask their opinion on the red pyjamas or the yellow ones, but refrain from asking them, “Do you want to go to bed now?” You have already decided it is bedtime… now train them in the process of bedding obediently. I promise you will be astonished when you show deliberate care and thought about this process and lead your children rather than ask them what they want. Leading your children gives them security. I suggest that having an idea of where you want to end, deliberately thinking about this journey will help you discipline from the beginning and sustain you along the way. Promise.