Children are not born knowing what is right or wrong they need to be taught. They learn from the people who are around them. This is why disciplining is important. Discipline means teaching and training. Disciplining is also an ongoing process that continues until the child becomes an adult. There are some effective ways a guardian can discipline their child. Here are some suggestions:
1. Discipline immediately after the misbehavior. This way your child will be able to connect the misbehavior with the consequences.
2. Let your child know why they are being disciplined. This will give your child an understanding as to why they shouldn’t engage in the inappropriate behavior.
3. Have a time limit for the consequences. In other words, let your child know the number of hours and / or days the consequences will exist.
4. Keep your own emotions under control. Remember your child looks up to you and learns from your behavior. Releasing your anger by yelling, screaming and name-calling will in no way help your child. It’s ok to feel anger but how you release your anger makes all the difference in the world. Express your feelings by using “I” messages. For example, I feel angry and frustrated when you don’t keep your room clean. Demonstrate to your child calming yourself down when you’re feeling angry. For example, take deep breaths, count backwards and think of nice thoughts.
5. Discipline your child in private. Your child will feel embarrassed and resent you if disciplined in front of others. It can also lower a child’s self esteem if scolded in public.
6. Issue a consequence that would fit the misbehavior. For example, if your child walks into the kitchen with muddy shoes have your child clean up the floor.
7. Express your love to your child. Reassure your child that your love doesn’t change; you just want them to become a better person.
8. Give your child rewards for appropriate behavior. This way it will encourage your child to make good choices.
9. Set boundaries. Let your child know up front what they can and can not do. In addition, share with them the reasons for the limits.
10. Listen to what your child has to say. Let your child speak and express what they have to say regardless of what it is. Ignoring or shutting them down will just lead them to have feelings of depression, anger, resentment and helplessness.
Please don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance if you’re having a difficult time in disciplining your child. There are counselors and social services available in most communities. There is not one person who has the answers to everything. Sometimes we need each other for help and that is ok.