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How to discipline a child

Why is disciplining your child important? Discipline teaches the child to follow laid down rules. Did you know that right disciplining techniques can enrich your child's life, make them more confident and self-assured and better leaders?

Being an adult is hard enough, juggling work and life, having to be responsible and make judicious choices; the effort and the toil never ends. And parenthood brings on more responsibilities to the list. You become responsible for another human. You need to provide for their emotional, social and physical wellbeing. But the is not all, you also need to ensure that they lead disciplined lives.

Discipling the child is perhaps the toughest aspect of being a parent. Parents love their offspring and tend to become indulgent around them. Parents don't like the look of disappointment in their child's eye, nor do they want to be termed as 'bad' or hear their child say, 'I hate you'. In their quest to build this 'perfect relationship' with their child, parents can often neglect disciplining their child.

Why parents find it difficult to discipline

Parents struggle with disciplining their children because being a disciplinarian puts them in an awkward spot. If you are the disciplinarian, you end up being the 'bad guy'. Being the one who has to speak to the child about the consequences of their unacceptable behavior, is not an exciting prospect. Having to deal with the consequences of their behavior can leave the child angry and upset. They can become agitated and 'hate' you for enforcing the consequences on them. For the parent, it is a tough call, but it has to be done.

I have come across parents who opine that children should not be reproved or corrected. They want the children to be all rosy and nice, filled with words of encouragement and praise. That according to them helps children develop better. While I agree that praise and encouragement are great, but they are just not enough.

Disciplining a child explained

Discipline sounds like a monster word, but if you really break it down, it is just a means of driving your child in the right direction. It is your way of inculcating good habits in them. It is not about being a strict disciplinarian, it is about doing the right parenting.

Every child needs to be disciplined, appropriately. Teaching your child to be polite, to not lie, to not steal is as much a part of discipline as is correcting them when they misbehave, lie or steal, or do anything that is unacceptable. It is not complicated at all. You know it is the right thing to do, but may still need help in figuring out how to go about it.

I hope to give you some useful tips that can make your job a bit easier. While it is true that no two children are the same, nor will two children react the same way when they are being disciplined, but there are some basic principles that every parent can practice.

Don't always be rigid and fastidious, be flexible at times. Always be impartial and open-minded and be logical and dependent. Be a healthy mix of all these qualities and add to it lots of love, don't stooge on that. Discipline doesn't mean being angry and punishing your child, with the I don't care, I don't love you, attitude. These are the key principles on which you must base discipline. It is an effective method and you can achieve it provided you go by the rules.

If you follow these techniques, you'll maintain the ties of trust with your little one. If you use severe punitive actions or introduce discipline, suddenly, out of nowhere you will cause the ties between and your child to be broken. Like adults, children too need to feel that there are no biases and that they are being treated justly. This is crucial for the bond between the child and the parent to be maintained.

Be careful with how you discipline, your choice of words, your behaviour etc., can all have a great impact. Don't get nasty, in word and action, when you are disciplining your child. Be in control of your temper and don't use harmful words. Implement a workable system of discipline. Grounding s good but telling the child you don't love them is not.

What makes 'discipline' important

Disciplining the child is as significant for the child's development as providing wholesome, nourishing food, cognitive exercises, physical activities, love, understanding, support and other basic needs. When discipline lacks, children fail to imbibe the necessary skills, to navigate through life.

A disciplined child understands acceptable behaviour, knows wrong from right. The child will develop better communication skills and be better at forming associations with peers. They fit in better in groups and in society. Much of how they behave stems from the way they are being disciplined at home. A physically aggressive child may be physically aggressive with others.

Discipline should never involve screaming and abuse. Don't discipline when you are consumed with anger. You'll regret your actions, but the damage would have been done.

Discipline and its effect on development

There are different parenting styles, and how a parent disciplines a child has to do with how they were raised by their parents. However, parents can also adapt to newer styles, but broadly speaking parents are Authoritative, Authoritarian, Neglectful and Indulgent.

Child psychologists term the authoritative parenting style as the most effective method and balanced approach to disciplining a child. It is a way of correcting the child, with being harsh or causing an adverse long-term psychological impact.

Authoritative parents focus on skill development, they allow their kids the freedom to be themselves and make choices. The heightened level of independence helps the kids hone leadership qualities. They exhibit better social skills, better self-discipline and better self-confidence and are decidedly more mature than their peers.

They carry these qualities into adulthood and become better leaders – they are better equipped and more accomplished.

Flawed methods of disciplining

The other methods of parenting may seem fine but are faulty. They can have severe repercussions that reflect in the child's behavior, especially later in life. A parent's purpose should be to raise a child who can fly out and take on the world.

Discipline affects the way a child develops. Authoritative parenting is about establishing age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions, which are just.

The right way to discipline a child

There is no one size fits all discipline plan, but certain broad guidelines can ensure that you get it right –

Explain rules and reasons behind the rules

Do not talk to strangers, is a rule, every parent must impose. Explain the why. Similarly, the rule about not playing with the gas stove should be followed as a reason. Have a rule about finishing the homework before going out to play, let them know why.

Show respect

Your child may still be a child but is still someone with an opinion. Listen to the child's opinion. You may not agree with the child but do hear him out. don't ignore or snub him.

Encourage the child share feelings

Don't suppress your child's emotions and feelings, respect them. In fact, encourage your child to openly discuss their feelings with you. it builds trust.

Explain consequences

Don't punish the child without first having explained the consequences. A child is well, still a child, who doesn't see life the way you do. A child's understanding of things is different from yours. As an adult, guide your child and explain the consequences of doing things that aren't permissible. Don't wait for the child to do wrong and then make rules and use them.

Conversations are important

Conversations are important especially after the child has done something they were not supposed to do. Having a conversation at this point is crucial. It should be a one to one, and not a tirade, where you do all the sermonizing. Ask why they did what they did. Reiterate why it was wrong.

Be consistent

Children can be manipulative and get things done their way. If you have a rule and consequences for it, implement them strictly. If they are not allowed to spend time online as part of discipline for not doing something that they were supposed to do, restrict them if they fail to comply again. Don't be lax with rules and punishments.

Discuss good behaviour

While it is correct to check bad behaviour, it is imperative that good behavior also is praised and acknowledged. A child should know that you notice when they do things right.

Harsh punishment is not discipline

You want to teach your child how to do things right, how to live life right, to make the right choices etc., but harsh punishments are not the way to teach those lessons. Name calling, shaming, screaming, hitting and withholding love should never be your choice of discipline.

In conclusion

Discipline is part of parenting. Always follow it with encouragement and love; it is essential to send the right message to the child, which is that you love them. You discipline them, but you also love them. Let your actions be issue based, don't carry the anger with you.

Also, set boundaries and encourage your kid to be independent within those limits. Make sure the child understands the consequences and the reason behind the punishments.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana

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