I’ve had many clients ask me if they’re bad parents just because they don’t have a clue how to effectively discipline their children. I always answer with a chuckle as if every parent who couldn’t discipline is bad than there sure are a lot of lousy parents out there.
Not knowing how to discipline children is extremely common. How would you know how to do it if you haven’t had children before? Yes, some of it is common sense but a lot is training and practice. I learned how to discipline kids by babysitting and volunteering in daycare centres when I was about 13. I was always put with the challenging kids as enjoyed figuring out how to handle them. I used a combination of leadership and fun which I carried right through all the kids/teens I worked with through out the years and certainly while raising my own two kids.
So if you don’t know how to discipline, then you can learn how to do it. Discipline is what leads to self-discipline. Kids aren’t born with self-discipline, it’s up to us to teach then, that’s why disciplining them is so important.
You can’t effectively discipline without your children’s respect, but once you have it discipline is approximately:
99% positive encouragement and 1% punishment (if even that)
So what if you’re currently at 50% and 50%, or maybe even worse? How long does it take to get respect? That depends on 2 things:
- the age of your children
- your willingness to replace old habits with new ones
I’ve had clients who saw huge changes in just 2 days and others who needed several months to get things sorted out. It’s all up to you and how quickly you can change your parenting style. You don’t need to change everything, often it’s something really small that you’re not even aware of that needs adjusting.
What you say and how you say it are extremely important. Here’s a good example of how NOT to talk to a 6 year old who is consistently cheeky and defiant:
“Why are you always so difficult? What’s wrong with you? Do you want to have media blackout for the next month?!”
A better way:
“You know it’s not okay to be cheeky so there’ll be no media tonite. But instead, how about we play a board game?”
You’re replacing a negative situation with a positive one. Family games nights are bonding and fun. Media blackout is the consequence for being cheeky but that’s it, forgive and forget. Move on and replace the negative with a positive.
So how do you handle it if your child flips out over media blackout and throws the board game across the room? You completely ignore it, let them work it out on their own. You are calm, silent and disengaged.
Of course there’s a lot more to it but that’s the basic premise. You lay down the law, follow through and don’t get pulled into any dialogue explaining yourself. If you allow yourself to be pulled into conversations whereby you’re explaining your authority … you’ve just lost it.
Check out how to get your kids to do what you want. It’s my “As Soon As Method”.
Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach
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