Parenting Tip: Teaching Discipline to Your Children

Discipline and teaching your children acceptable ways to behave can be one of the most challenging parts of parenting. There are many different opinions about how to properly discipline your child, but one idea that is constant in these many different beliefs and attitudes is that the purpose of discipline is not necessarily to make your child behave in the next few minutes, or even that same day, but to guide your child through their developmental stages while teaching them important lessons and behaviors that will help them grow into successful adults.

Discipline: Reminders and Tips

  • Remember the purpose of discipline.
    It is to teach your child socially acceptable ways of expressing natural desires and drives. Discipline guides your child into adulthood.
  • Successful discipline is geared to the child’s developmental stage.
    Don’t expect a child of any age to perform something he or she is not ready for.
  • Children need positive reinforcement.
    Reward you child for doing right with smiles, hugs, attention, praise and thanks. Rewards do not need to be toys or candy.
  • Never hit or shake a child.
  • Hitting is not a useful discipline tool for your children. Hitting and other physical punishment are not effective because they teach a child that it is okay to hit people, make children much too angry to be sorry for what they’ve done and can hurt a child physically.
  • Discipline is best taught by example.
    The lessons you teach your child come from what your child sees you do – not what you say.
  • If what you are doing is not working, change it!
    Your best efforts, even those that worked in the past, may break down. Try to keep sight of your basic principles and always cherish your relationship with your child.

Twelve Alternatives to Lashing out at Your Child

We know that times where you need to discipline your child are stressful and and recognize that parents are usually not happy about having to discipline their child. This can sometimes lead parents – even those who are normally calm, cool and collected – to lash out physically or verbally. The next time everyday pressures build up to the point where you feel like lashing out — STOP! Try any of these simple alternatives. You’ll feel better… and so will your child.

  1. Take a deep breath…and another. Then remember you are the adult.
  2. Close your eyes and imagine you’re hearing what your child is about to hear.
  3. Press your lips together and count to 10… or better yet, to 20.
  4. Put your child in a time-out chair (remember this rule: one time-out minute for each year of age).
  5. Put yourself in a time-out chair. Think about why you are angry: is it your child, or is your child simply a convenient target for your anger?
  6. Phone a friend.
  7. If someone can watch the children, go outside and take a walk.
  8. Take a hot bath or splash cold water on your face
  9. Hug a pillow.
  10. Turn on some music. Maybe even sing along.
  11. Pick up a pencil and write down as many helpful words as you can think of. Save the list.
  12. Call for prevention information: 1-800-CHILDREN

We also have a policy resolution on the use of corporal punishment in schools and institutions.

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