Now that the children are heading back to school, parents are becoming anxious as summer winds down and children have to get back to a steady routine. In my counseling office, parents often ask, What is the most effective way to discipline my acting-out children or my defiant teen that has an attitude? You have to remember you have a very precious and valuable relationship with your child or teen. It is one that must last forever; and their childhood traumas are carried into their adult relationships, so how you parent has a lasting emotional effect on their sense of self, happiness and ultimate success as an adult.
What most people don’t know is that the word discipline comes from the Bible; it comes from the word Disciple; and it means, “to teach.” It is a part of The Positive Parenting approach that I encourage my parents to use to teach their children self-control and to make wise choices. Parents must learn to be more of a calm, enthusiastic teacher, not a yelling, angry tyrant.
Positive Discipline teaches children appropriate behavior, important values and corrects a child’s misbehavior. Effective discipline helps children learn how to:
- Exercise self-control at school and at home
- Be responsible for themselves and be kind to others
- Respect limits asked by adults, of their peers and other people’s boundaries
- Make decisions that are in their best interests, without violating others
- Gives them a sense of security and teaches the consequences that can be expected for bad behavior, choices or attitudes
The most effective discipline helps children learn from the results of their actions, while preserving their self-respect. It minimizes power struggles and allows for the possibility of compromise. It is important to be firm, fair and consistent. Avoid physical punishment. The dangers of using physical punishment on your child are:
1) You teach your child it is ok to control others by using intimidation and physical force, thus creating a child who is violent to others.
2) It is more likely your child will be rebellious towards you when they reach adolescence. Abused children often are substance abusers as teens; teenage girls often engage in cutting, risky sexual behaviors, or develop eating disorders.
3) You can seriously harm your child and possibly face criminal charges.
4) You make it less likely that your child will develop sensitivity to the feelings of others. Those who are hit become bullies as children and violent, out-of-control teens.
5) You discourage your child from resolving conflicts by reasoning and negotiating, necessary and important skills for their future success.
6) You increase the chances your child will be abusive to their own child one day.
7) You risk getting a visit from DYFS – Division of Youth and Family Services; and in extreme cases, your child may be removed from your home and placed in foster care.
“Bad” discipline is anything physically or emotionally abusive – such as hitting with a hanger, belt or buckle, electrical cord, a tree branch/switch, or burning. It also includes emotionally frightening or threatening the child, such as locking them in a dark basement or dirty attic, refusing to talk to them for a long period of time, or constantly yelling and screaming at them.
“Good” discipline could include removing TV, sending the child to his room or time-out chair, taking away their game-boy, computer, or other recreational hobby for a period of time.
The Keys to Effective Parenting
1) Focus on your child’s positive qualities and constructive behaviors.
2) Praise them often when they are doing well.
3) Do your best not to take their misbehavior personally and keep in mind that we all make mistakes – including your child.
4) Explain clearly the house rules and what discipline the child can expect if the rules are broken.
5) If you are having power struggles or other problems, seek out a Relationship Coach or Family Therapist to help guide you with these issues.
6) Find a few summer activities the kids will enjoy, individually, and as a family. Do not over-do, but encourage creative arts and various adventures that are exciting and new. Have one family adventure a week, and be sure to schedule in a once-a-week parent date night, to give you an enjoyable well-deserved break.
7) Use the Allowance Chart for teens and Start Chart for children to encourage them to do their chores and follow house rules. This weekly chart states a reward for meeting their weekly goals, and a discipline if they do not meet the minimum requirement for the week.
Read how to use these Behavioral Modification charts in the Parenting chapter of Riana’s book, Live Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success. Learn to use the Positive Parenting method to raise successful, happy children and young adults. It works great!
Riana Mine is a Marriage/Family Therapist at Therapy by the Sea, LLC; a Certified Relationship Coach, author, and motivational speaker in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. Her column, My Relationship Coach will discuss the relationship you have with yourself and others. Her free App: My Relationship Coach offers more articles and her book, Live Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success, addresses various relationships. To learn more or suggest a topic, go to www.RianaMilne.com or email RianaMilne@gmail.com