Top tips for effective discipline
The way you discipline your child is individual to you and your child. It will be influenced by a number of factors including both your own and your child's personality. However there are some broad principles that childcare experts agree, are important components in any approach to discipline.
Here is a list of points that may be of help to you in deciding the best approach to take when your child misbehaves:
Criticise the action not the child — constantly telling a child that he is bold or bad will damage his self-esteem and reduce his self-confidence.
Consistency is the key to good discipline — if it was not allowed yesterday it should not be allowed today.
Follow through on the threats you make when your child is misbehaving. For example, if your child continues to throw sand in your face at the beach despite your threats to leave, then you do need to leave. Doing this once may be enough to get your point across. Children soon ignore their parent's threats if they know that they are not always carried out.
Use choices and consequences. Rather than nagging children when they misbehave, give them a choice about a consequence. For example, “Either you clean your toys away now or they will be taken from you for the day — it's your choice,” or, “Either you come in now for tea or you will miss your favourite TV programme tonight.”
Consequences have to be realistic and occur straight away, especially in the case of young children.
If the day is full of “No, don't touch,” etc, look for alternative positive ways of directing your child's behaviour. A day full of “No”s can be very discouraging for both the child and parent.
Try to keep your cool. Watching a parent out of control, shouting, etc, can be frightening for young children and does not provide the role model you would choose for your child. If you feel yourself getting angry it may be best to withdraw, calm down, and then deal with the situation: “I'm too upset to talk about what happened, I will deal with you later about it.”
Catch your child being good and praise accordingly.
Try to be aware of the type of attention you give your child. Is it mostly negative? If so, look for the positives and praise these behaviours — you will be pleasantly surprised at the effect this can have.
Set fair and reasonable limits/rules.
Agree with your partner on what is allowed and what is not — you have to be consistent in your approaches to discipline.
Consider carefully the long-term effects spanking will have on your child. Children who are not smacked can be just as well behaved as those who are.
Remember that you cannot get it perfect every time and a sense of humour goes a long way to help defuse angry situations.
Be kind to yourself
Using a positive approach to discipline is hard work. You need to be positive and consistent for a long time. It is hard to do this if you feel tired or low. That's why it is very important for parents to be kind to themselves and to look after their own needs.
As parents we all tend to put our children's needs first and for the most part this is as it should be, but we do need to be careful not to neglect ourselves. There is no doubt that being a parent is a demanding task and does require a lot of energy but sometimes we can work too hard.
If you are getting some relaxation every week it will make a huge difference to your sense of wellbeing. Of course there will be times when it does not go as planned, but if you have a regular system in place and are committed to making it work for you, your whole family will reap the benefits.
For more information, visit www.RollerCoaster.ie, Ireland’s No 1 website for pregnancy and parenting.