Some Basic Fundamentals of Effective Discipline
Here are some discipline fundamentals that will serve you well in whatever form of discipline you use:
1. Discipline is about you, too
Whenever the need for discipline arises, look first at what YOU can do, rather than what you can force your kids to do. Specifically . . .
- Can you alter the environment in a way that reduces the need for discipline?
- Change the schedule so that less problems arise?
- Convey your needs to your children better?
- Modify the way you interact with them?
Most of all, don’t blame your child if a discipline technique fails.
2. Include kids in the process
Discipline works best when you involve children in both the problem solving and punishment process. Kids will come up with solutions on their own that would have been Kryptonite if you had suggested it. Remember that the purpose of discipline is to teach, and children learn better through active participation than they do by lectures or through top-down management.
3. Speak with actions as well as words
If ever you find yourself talking too much but not getting the results you desire, that’s a clue that you’re underestimating actions. Stop talking and ask yourself what you can do.
4. Flexibility and variability are important
What works well in one situation may not work in another. Kids have a knack for finding the chinks in our defenses and presenting us with new dilemmas. Novelty also tends to prompt attention. So the more variety you can bring to your discipline, the better.
5. Avoid going negative
Threats don’t work. Rather than prompting the child to feel bad for not cooperating, they tend to prompt children to become even more stubborn. And discipline should never involve shame or humiliation. As Dreikurs and Soltz note, “Humiliating a child for any reason whatsoever shows intense lack of respect and is certainly not a training device.” (1964, p. 94)
6. Stay the course
When trying any new technique, there is often a rebound period when a child’s behavior temporarily worsens. This is especially true when it comes to setting new limits and boundaries or when you’re trying to change the patterns of interaction you have with children from negative to positive. It’s quite likely they’ll even test you to see how serious and committed you actually are. Expect this, and stick with it. These techniques work, but many parents don’t give them a chance to work. Be willing to accept that there might be a little bit of a learning curve or lag time.