You've seen those kids who behave impeccably, whose parents never seem to scream or shout at them. Have you wondered what their secret is?
Let me tell you, there is no 'one fix solution', but what these families do have is a series of simple habits and systems that enable their children to behave in a certain way.
Imagine that - a few simple habits;
- No more sceaming
- No more nagging
- No more attitude
- No more backchat
- No more drama
- AND, No more sick feeling when you punish your child.
Just automatic, good behavior.
I'm a mother of four and also spent many years working in education both in the UK and the USA. Many of the strategies and techniques I learned in the classroom are just as effective when applied to our own children at home. Over the next few weeks, I will be adding to this blog post, sharing with you some of the techniques that worked for me both in the classroom and at home. Now as I stated above, there is 'no one magic formula' and it is my intention that you take the techniques I talk about, give them a try and apply those that work for you and your family and continue to develop them and drop the ones that are not working.
So, what is discipline?
Look in any dictionary or online for a definition and you will find this - Discipline is the practice of making people obey rules or standards of behavior, and punishing them when they do not.
However, the word discipline comes from the Latin word 'disciplinare' which means to teach, so therefore it is way to guide and manage a child's behavior.
What are the goals of discipline? (https://ddrcco.com/early-intervention/what-is-disc...)
- To encourage appropriate behavior
- To help problems from arising as your child grows older
- To instill a lifelong sense of self-discipline
Basic principles of discipline:
- Be a good listener
- Speak kindly, quietly and on the child's level.
- Identify what is important and emphasize it.
- Identify what is unimportant and forget it.
- Childproof your environment.
- Identify limits that are appropriate and necessary. Once you establish these limits, they should be clearly defined and consistently maintained.
- Give suggestions or directions in a positive, specific form.
- Give your child a choice only when you are prepared to accept your child's decision.
- Acknowledge your child's reaction.
- Acknowledge your own feelings.
- Try to understand and deal with the cause of your child's behavior.
- Avoid making comparisons between one child and another or encouraging competition.
- Avoid giving empty threats. They become meaningless.
- Understand that your child will begin to think, feel and behave (identify with) significant people in their lives.
- In some situations, "I" messages may be better than "you" messages.
A Child's Viewpoint of Discipline:
- Set limits for me. I know quite well that I ought not have all I ask for. I am only testing you.
- Be firm with me. I prefer it; it makes me feel more secure.
- Help me form good habits. I have to rely on you to detect bad habits and learn good habits in my early stages.
- Let me experience consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.
- If I say, "I hate you", it isn't you I hate, but your power to thwart me.
- Give me attention for my positive behavior, praise me - that way I learn good behaviors.
- Be consistent. Inconsistency confuses me and makes me loose faith in you.
- Remember how quickly I am growing up. It must be hard for you to keep up with me, but please try.
- Remember that I love to experiment. I couldn't get on and learn about my world, so please put up with it.
- Remember that I thrive on lots of understanding and love, but I don't have to tell you, do I?
One of the key points to any behavior management strategy is consistency and establishing a quality relationship with our child. It is also important to remember, whilst our children, are growing and learning, we are a vital member of their education team, and at this time we cannot be their friends too. During this period of learning and growing, it is important to establish a relationship of trust and respect on both sides, which is turn will directly affect behavior. A relationship of friendship can be built later.
Establishing a daily routine is vital for developing consistency and trust, and ultimately a meaningful relationship with your child. One of the most important ways to develop a good routine is create an environment which starts the day relaxed and stress free. (Impossible, I hear you cry!)
Start the day right
Most people do much better with a gentle start to the day and children are no different.
Start each day in a positive frame of mind by starting the morning 'wake up' routine at least 30 minutes before you need to start getting ready for the day, set an alarm to help you do this. This is not intended to be a 'quiet' time for you before the day begins, but is intended to allow you to BEGIN gently waking your child. (Note: some children may require more than 30 minutes and you will need to adjust the timings accordingly.)
- Begin the 'gentle waking' process by first turning on the bedroom lights or opening the curtains and using your child's name, say 'Lexie, it's time to start thinking about getting up.'
- After no more than 5 minutes, go back in, pull back the covers and say 'Lexie, it's time to start getting up'
- In 5 more minutes, go in again and say 'Lexie, it's time to get up, go to the bathroom and clean your teeth" etc.
It is in between these times that you would be getting yourself ready for the day, getting lunches (where needed) etc.
Now you might be thinking 'I don't have time for that', but imagine if your partner came rushing into your room hollering for you get up, ripping off your covers, and pushing you out of bed - that's exactly how your child feels and immediately they are set up for a day of bad moods and tantrums.
Adjusting your thinking
If you can take a step back and think about how you would react in different situations, you are in a better position to adjust your mindset to accommodate your child's needs and feelings and you will find yourself punishing your child less and your days will become a lot smoother because everyone is calmer and more relaxed from the get go.