Most of us go with parenting the same way we were parented, and we anticipate that our children will toe the line just as we did. But if the tried and true discipline methods used by your parents simply don’t cut it with your child, it’s time to try something new.
It would be great if there was a one-size-fits-all solution for disciplining children that worked across the board, but there’s not. All children are unique and have different personalities and temperaments, so a disciplinary style that works with other children simply may not work with your child.
Here are 10 tips for disciplining children for you to consider trying:
1. Identify What Your Child Values Most
Once you have identified the object, activity or privilege your child values most, you can withdraw it as a disciplinary measure. For example, this may be taking away his or her favorite toy for the rest of the day or not letting them watch their favorite TV program that day. Withdraw whatever it is that will get the message through to your child most effectively.
2. Give Your Children Predictable Consequences Set In Stone
Make sure your child understands that the same negative result will come from the same inappropriate behavior every time. For example, if your child does “Action A,” they should be 100% sure that they will always get “Consequence B” – not maybe “Consequence C” or “Consequence D” or whatever else pops into your mind in the heat of the moment. When a child knows that the rules constantly remain the same, they’re far more likely to abide by them.
3. Don’t Give In
If you give in to your child when they are whining, crying, arguing or having a temper tantrum, you are teaching them that this type of defiant behavior is the way to get what they want. And they will learn to repeat this behavior knowing that there’s a chance you might eventually give in. This is true even if you only give in every so often. On the other hand, if you are firm and consistently unwavering, your child will quickly learn that there’s absolutely no point in fighting what he or she is eventually going to have to do anyway.
4. Avoid Repeating Directions Over And Over Again
If a direction you have given to your child is not followed, you should repeat it just once with a clear and concise warning of what the consequences will be if they don’t comply. If after this warning is given your child still hasn’t followed your direction, promptly apply the consequences. Do not continue to repeat the direction over and over – they had 2 chances to comply, that’s enough.
5. Give Your Child 2 Choices
Whenever possible, offer your child 2 alternate choices to give them a feeling of independence and a certain level of control. For example, offer your child a choice between drying the dishes or folding the washing; picking up the blocks or the books, etc. As a disciplinary measure, if your toddler is resisting getting dressed in the morning, giving him or her two outfits to pick from takes the focus off the power struggle over getting dressed and allows them to feel like they have some control.
6. Ask For Your Child’s Help
It may seem a little hard to believe if you are dealing with a hard-to-manage child right now, but the reality is that all children are born into the world innately programmed to be helpful and cooperative. You can take advantage of this natural tendency whenever you need to by giving your child a ‘job’ to do that will prevent or defuse a tantrum.
For example, if your child refuses to get into his or her car seat, try making them the ‘boss of the seatbelts’ with the job of making sure everyone is safely buckled in before the car can start. At the grocery store you can give your child the job of being your ‘lookout’ to help you find certain items, or try pretending to be lost and needing your child’s help to find your way to another aisle or the check out. Asking your child for help is great for their self-esteem and it is an excellent way to take their mind off disruptive or defiant behavior.
7. Make Good Behavior Fun
Disciplining your child doesn’t always have to leave you feeling like the party pooper or the wicked witch of the west. The truth is that your child is far more likely to comply if they are enjoying themself. For example, when it’s time to pack up the toys, try saying: “Let’s see who can pick up 10 toys the fastest.”
8. Use A Kitchen Timer
When enforcing a rule or waiting for a specific direction to be carried out, a kitchen timer is a powerful tool that will get your child moving faster and it will also prevent you from letting non-compliance slip by unnoticed.
9. Allow Redo’s For Yelling And Back-Chatting
How often have you wished you could take back something you said right after you said it? We’ve all been there. So, when your child back-chats or snaps at you, a great way to keep the peace in your household instead of being drawn into a big fight is to take a deep breath and allow a ‘redo,’ giving your child a chance to say what they want to again in a more respectful tone. And then you can calmly address the problem that incited the regrettable comment in the first place.
Not only does asking for a redo when your child talks back to you or yells at you keep the situation from escalating, it also teaches your child that speaking to people calm and respectful manner is a much better way to get the response he or she wants.
10. Keep Looking for a Better Way
No two children are alike, therefore no single discipline plan works for everyone, which is why it is important to explore a variety of parenting techniques and disciplinary strategies to find a system that works best for you, your unique child and your family.
Even if you are at a point where you have read dozens of discipline articles and books about discipline, attended parenting classes, sought advice from family and friends, mirrored many different discipline methods you have seen work for other parents, and are feeling like you have already tried absolutely everything; you haven’t. There is still hope for solving your parenting problems.
It’s just a matter of finding a set of parenting guidelines that fit your personal style and are specifically designed to help you manage a challenging, spirited, stubborn or difficult child.
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