From the moment that you become a parent, you will hear plenty of tips about how to raise your child. Everybody seems to drop a tip about the best way to discipline them based on personal experiences. But every child is different and a parent needs to find out a way to cope with their tantrums in their own unique way.
You should also realise that as a child grows up you have to carefully tread the thin line between leniency and a friendly attitude towards your child. When your child is younger the worst behaviour he can exhibit is throwing a fit in public and wailing on the floor in the middle of a shopping aisle for a toy. As a teenager your child may throw bigger challenges at you. While all parents tend to pamper their child out of love, it becomes imperative that they show daily firm, yet loving discipline.
What Is Discipline?
Discipline is a way of teaching your child through instructions what kind of behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable. Discipline involves a method of rewards and punishments used to teach your child how to follow rules. Good discipline is the patient and positive teaching and direction that you provide your child every day. It involves four basic steps:
- Talking effectively and putting your message across
- Providing clear instructions to your child
- Monitoring your child’s behaviour
- Providing encouragement when your child show good conduct
May of us tend to get impatient while disciplining our child and lose our temper. But we should realise that discipline is not a daily chore rather a way of watching over your child’s good or bad behaviour.
Challenges to Establishing Discipline
It may be easy for a rebellious child to ignore your repeated instructions and be disrespectful. It may even be convenient for him to listen but deliberately defy your instructions. Most parents tend to lose their calm and resort to negative approaches when it comes to establishing discipline. You need to be reliable and self-controlled in the process and learn to make your child respect you. While you can take help from schools, therapists or churches, you will have to shoulder the biggest part of the responsibility on your own.
Styles of Parenting
There are three main styles of parenting according to the American Mental Health association:
1. Authoritative parent: This is the most effective parenting style. In this the parent is clear about his expectations and the consequences that the child could expect. Such a parent also exhibits affectionate behaviour, allows flexibility and collaborates with the child during problem solving process.
2. Authoritarian parent: This is an imposing kind of parenting style in which the parent does provide clear instructions about his expectations and the consequences yet shows little affection towards the child’s point of view.
3. Permissive parent: Such a parent shows more affection than discipline towards his child. These children can grow up to be pampered and spoilt.
How to Discipline Your Child
All children are different and it becomes the parent’s responsibility to find out a way to effectively discipline the child according to his age, temperament and nature of inappropriate behaviour. Here are a few suggestions that can help all parents:
- Reward good conduct: When your child does a good act, make sure you acknowledge his efforts, show appreciation and compliment him. By this method you will subconsciously feel good about that kind of behaviour.
- Natural or logical consequences: In most situations try and allow the child to see the natural outcomes of his mistakes rather than lecturing him. For instance if he deliberately breaks a toy, make him see how he will no longer have a toy to play with instead of buying him a new one. In other situations make him see the logic of the consequences of his unacceptable behaviour. For example tell your child that his toys will be removed for a week if he does not put them back in the toy cabinet.
- Take away privileges: If your child refuses to do as instructed then you can react by taking away something that he enjoys doing. For instance if he does not do his homework, don’t allow him to watch television that day. This method works if the unacceptable behaviour was related to the privilege that you deprived him from and done as soon as possible after the improper behaviour.
- Corporal punishment or spanking: Save the stick, spoil the child is a concept that has long been shunned. Researchers have proven that this kind of punishment only makes the child more aggressive and subconsciously instils the belief in the child be that it is OK to hurt somebody you love. This form of punishment is discouraged because there are other non-physical punishments that cause less negative outcomes.
- Time out: In certain situations you may put the child in a room all alone. This place should preferably be away from his usual playing area like the bathroom. This form of punishment is more helpful in a child who is younger because they are more emotionally attached to parents.
- Dealing with a teenager: When you are dealing with a teenager you need to realise that incessant screaming and imposing rules will not help him understand your point. In case of inappropriate behaviour you will be required to stay calm and think in his shoes. You will have to act like a dispassionate cop who will write a ticket according to the level of your offence and not get involved in heated discussions. The raised voices or the angry glare will only jeopardise your relationship with your child. This dispassionate delivery of consequences is favoured over an emotional delivery.
- Use positive teaching: Tell your child when they do something right and encourage and praise them for their conduct. If you suspect they did something wrong, calmly explain how it could have been done the right way. For example, if your daughter refuses to befriend a girl based on her attire, teach her how it is more important to judge a person based on their personality than outward appearances. This is a lesson that will remain ingrained in her mind for life.
While punishing your child it is best to consider his temperament, nature and the intensity of the ill behaviour in mind. Sometimes you will have to be stern and consistent and go against the feelings of guilt that you feel out of love. But the essential thing that needs to be understood is that what is done is done and you should not go on apologising or constantly lecturing once you have announced a punishment for the offence. This will only make the child bitter and make him rebel to your rules. It is also essential that you don’t let your child think of you as a dictator. Make rules but also allow your child to make his own mistakes and learn from them.
If you need help or support with parenting or improving the relationship with your child or children, Australia Counselling counsellors, therapists and psychologists are experienced in helping you with this. We have counsellors and psychologists in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and regional areas of Australia. Visit our parenting issues page to search for a counsellor in your local area.