Soft Greens of Spring Are Here Serenity Garden

Discipline

We’ve all heard, spare the rod and spoil the child but is that the kind of discipline that really works?  It didn’t for me as a kid (though seeing that belt snap in Daddy’s hands scared the you-know-what out of me!) and consequently, I haven’t tried it on my children.

Everyday in the life of a new child is a day when they learn countless new things. Children learn by doing and exploring.  Curiosity is a critical component of a child’s learning process.  But that same curiosity can be maddening to an exhausted parent.  Too often, stressed-out parents respond to a child’s natural curiosity with a harsh word or worse.  That’s why it’s a good idea to have your discipline game plan in mind before you need to put it into action.

What is appropriate for your children’s ages?  What strategies have proven effective by others.  A little research before you get into ‘heavy lifting’ on the discipline front can be time well spent.

Routines are important at every age for children (and grownups too!)  There is security in the familiar and a regular schedule helps a child anticipate and prepare for his or her day ahead.  When children are very small, it’s important that you as a parent recognize your baby’s routine.  When are they hungry?  When do they tend to settle in for a nap?  You’ll want to take your cue from your baby in the early years, later they’ll get their cues from you.

When my children were small, every mother in my circle raved about the Time Out Chair.  I tried the “time out” chair.  It didn’t work in our house.  Once when one son was about three or four years old, he’d misbehaved and I assigned him a couple minutes in the “time out chair.”  I put a kid sized chair in the corner of our sparsely furnished dining room, faced him in the corner, and stepped out of the room for a bit.  A minute later, I peeked in to see how he was doing.  The little monkey was still in the chair – but he’d moved it to a different corner!  I couldn’t help but laugh at his resourcefulness – and realize I’d have to find another way to discipline my child.

My solution?  Time Out for Toys.   I found behavior improved much more quickly when the favorite toy or truck of the moment was put on top of the refrigerator.  There it stayed – plainly in sight, but well out of reach – until the behavior issue was resolved.  A toy had to be earned its freedom from ‘refrigerator prison.’

Effective discipline is consistent and appropriate to the age of the child.  What’s right for your youngster Click HERE to see some other disciplining strategies courtesy of the Clearinghouse on Early Education and Learning – U.of Illinois at Urbana.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to resort to discipline strategies very often?  Wouldn’t if be wonderful if you kids actually behaved most of the time?

Psychologists say “bad is stronger than good,” meaning that negative comments have much more impact that positive ones.  How true that is!  Can’t you recall every biting comment that’s ever been directed toward you?  Imagine then how a child processes a critical comment from the most important being in their universe, their parent?  Experts in child psychology have told me that when disciplining a child, it’s far more effective to use the 4:1 formula.  Four positive or supportive comments for every negative or corrective one.  For the parent who finds themselves thinking – or saying – “because I’m the parent, that’s why!” that can be a monumental hurdle to cross. 

At any given time, a sharp eyed parent can quickly name five things their kids have gotten wrong or tasks where they’ve fallen short.  Walk into your child’s room and you’ll probably find toys not properly placed, a bed not perfectly made, clothes in disarray – all tasks you’ve repeated told your little darling to get done.  But have you noticed how consistently they’ve laid out their clothes before school?  Did that permission slip get handed to you during the evening instead of in the midst of the morning rush out the door?  What about his or her schoolbag by the backdoor where it’s supposed to be? Train your eye to catch him doing right – and train yourself to mention it to your child when you do.

Praise the behaviors you want to see repeated.  Ignore the ones you want to stop.  Laughing at poor table manners, commenting ‘how cute’ when a child acts inappropriately serves to draw attention to the misbehavior and encourage more attention getting in the future.

When a child must be corrected, make sure it’s the behavior that’s being criticized not the person.  “It’s dangerous to run with a pair of scissors” not “You’re a bad boy for doing that.

BEHAVIOR

Have you noticed how many people use baby talk with their pets?  I’ve had dogs my entire life.  Children are a newer addition.  At times, I think there are a great many similarities.  Repetition is essential.  Fear gets a reaction, but doesn’t lead to lasting change.  Endless patience is a must. 

Charts are often an effective tool in helping children see the progress they are making toward desired behavior.  Once goals are clearly stated, and what’s needed to reach them, children can see the progress they’re making toward reaching them. 

When potty training, one of the kids was inspired by the possibility of earning small Hot Wheels cars.  Every time he successful made it to the potty without having an accident, he earned a sticker on the chart. When a line on the chart was filled, he was the proud recipient of a little car.  Unfortunately, I recall one dinner party I had with a bunch of important business people.  We all laughed when the Chairman of Texaco returned to the dinner table, laughing, “I didn’t know whether to take a sticker or put one up!”  (I decided he’d earned a car too!)