How to discipline kids is something that all parents think about. And let’s be honest, we dread it too. We’re always torn about how to go about it and are often unsure of ourselves.
As you probably know by now, there is no magic formula in parenting. And this is why we want to share all these positive discipline tools with you, to present you with a more respectful option when it comes to discipline.
So, here’s D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E spelled out!
Develop communication with your children. Spend time with them and make sure they know that you are available to them.
My five-year-old and I always look forward to our mother-daughter dates, which allow us to have dedicated time together. Getting to know her temperament in a calm and loving setting helps in reaching out to her.
Increase compliments, encouraging words and appreciation to encourage positive behavior. Remember, “children do better when they feel better,” according to Positive Discipline’s Jane Nelsen.
It is always easier to scream and flip our lids, especially after a long hard day. I am so guilty of this, sadly, but it is something that I am working on every day.
Show understanding and validate feelings. I must admit I was floored the first time I tried this.
One time, I had to interrupt my daughter’s playdate with a neighbor because we had to go to church. I was met with resistance, naturally.
I hugged my child and carried her while saying, “You’re sad because you were having so much fun and now we have to leave.” She simply said “Yes” in between sobs and then said goodbye to her playmate. Magic.
Control yourself, not your child. Modeling positive behavior is the best way to teach it. When you think about it, discipline is not just about disciplining your kids, but yourself too.
Oftentimes, when I’m on the verge of a meltdown, I check myself and take deep breaths to keep my emotions at bay. Say it with me now: breathe in, breathe out!
Invite your child to make decisions involving her. This I learned when I gave up the “what-to-wear-today” battle with my strong-willed child.
It is important to know, though, that setting boundaries is just as important as empowering them to make decisions for themselves. When I have to be particular about letting my daughter dress properly for an occasion, for example, I let her choose between two or three outfits. Giving choices makes children feel in charge of themselves with proper limits, and prevents potential power struggles.
Practice scenarios and engage in role playing to teach children how to deal with certain situations when unacceptable behavior occurs.
This was particularly helpful when my daughter would jealously cry over a friend playing with another friend. Other than giving her hugs and encouraging words, we talked about and practiced what she could do instead of just crying.
Listen. Really listen.
Oftentimes, kids feel when we are “not there” even if we are physically present. Hello, gadgets and other distractions! This is why I regularly challenge myself to be gadget-free when I am with my family.
I’m sure you have experienced having your small child close your laptop or try to get your tablet away from you. Children’s “misbehavior” often stem from seeking attention from their parents.
Implement flexible routines.
Following schedules and knowing what will happen next makes children feel secure and in control. However, we shouldn’t be slaves to it. Have a general routine that you can follow everyday and let your child know in advance when there are going to be changes to her day.
Never forget the power of hugs.
If you ask me what my number one discipline tool is, it has to be hugs. Hugs make children feel loved and accepted even in the midst of tantrums. As Mariel says, hugs can help you help your child manage his meltdowns in a positive way. Try it!
Encouragement is one of the best ways to improve or change unacceptable behavior.
Instead of shaming or humiliating our children, it will serve them well to be taught the expected behavior in a positive way. Children will want to be the best they can be when they feel better.
This spelling list isn’t a must. What works for us may not work for you. Take it. Leave it. Tweak it to make it work for you. At the end of the day, we are all just mommies and daddies wanting to do our best in raising happy, independent children.
And no matter what everyone else is saying, you are doing a great job!