Cracking The Whip: Why Your Discipline Doesn’t Work

February 7, 2011  |  

Healthy discipline deals with bad behavior by teaching the child why their behavior is unacceptable while also teaching them self-control.  When a parent shows control over their emotions, it teaches the child that they are capable of doing the same.  Healthy discipline teaches a child responsibility and accountability and includes the goal of teaching a child how to behave instead of making them suffer.  It should be positive and emphasize what they should do instead of focusing on what they shouldn’t.  Instead of telling your son not to keep the crayons from his little sister, explain to him the importance of sharing.

Consequences should be used as a guide to show the results of irresponsible or reckless behavior.  For example, if a child continues to leave clothes around and not pick up after themselves, then maybe they shouldn’t be bought new clothes until they learn to care for what they already have, or maybe they should be rationed clothes.  Discipline should help to build self-esteem that gives a child confidence to make better decisions in the future.  When a child is judged or verbally berated, it can make them feel that they aren’t capable of ever behaving well.

Discipline is something that requires creativity.  Just as a child’s personality differs individually, so does the type of discipline they respond to.  Just because spanking works for your niece doesn’t mean it will work for your daughter.  Discipline works best when it is memorable and incorporates a lesson.

If time outs are your go-to for teaching a lesson, keep in mind that they are only effective when they are free from distraction. The point of time out is to help the child focus on making connections between behavior and consequences; most adults can’t function if there is a TV blaring nearby, so for an agitated, excited child this can prove to be extremely difficult.  It’s also important to leave the child alone to think; constantly taunting a child in time out defeats the purpose.  Time out can also help calm a frustrated parent as well; by taking time to evaluate emotions, both parent and child can discuss behavior when adrenaline and anger aren’t at an all time high.

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