Go to your room! You’re grounded! No television for a week! We have heard or said these infamous phrases at least a dozen times. But are they an effective way to discipline your child?
I never thought about how I was going to discipline my child until the first time they did something wrong. Discipline started as a reaction. Now I realize that this is not the best way to parent.
Parents should expect and require obedience from their child. Without it, a child will not follow rules, respect authority, or know the difference between right and wrong. The wrong type of punishment will also have a negative effect on your child.
Finding what works best for you and what motivates your child will take some time. I use a combination and have found a good balance. Warning, what works with one child doesn’t work with the other. What worked one day may not work the next. Parenting would be much easier if this were not the case.
Before disciplining your child make sure you have rules established. Let them know the expectations. In most cases, you will need to give a reminder about breaking the rules, at that time also let you child know the consequences.
Use these 4 discipline methods to help give your child the structure and boundaries they need.
Which Discipline Methods Work
Reward Good Behavior
The best, most effective way to discipline is to not discipline at all. Notice when your child is setting a good example or behaving appropriately, then praise them for a job well done. This works especially well when your child with is struggling to act a certain way but then has a breakthrough.
Reward your child immediately and tell them why you are rewarding them. Use your words to tell them how proud you are and in some cases, a material reward is in order. You can use stickers, coupons, or just about anything as a reward.
This is my favorite method. Life is all about natural consequences no matter a person’s age. So this is not only an effective way to discipline, but it also provides great life lessons.
Natural consequences are the result of choice. A person chooses to or not to do something and the result has consequence.
Example: I was playing piano at church one Sunday and I had to be early to rehearse. We were going to drive together as a family except my son did not want to put on his shoes. We tried everything we could think of and finally told him that if he did not get his shoes on Daddy was going to leave without him. He still refused and we were not going to force him. I had to leave without them.
Yes, a bigger fit ensued, but he soon put on his shoes. They arrived a few minutes late. That day my son made a choice, not to put on his shoes when asked. The natural consequence was that he did not get to ride with me and was late. We have not had that problem again.
Another example of a natural consequence is when a toy breaks because they choose not to play with it correctly.
Natural consequences are effective but not for every situation. For instance, it is not wise to use them when your child decides to reach for a hot stove.
Logical consequences are a result of a choice but imposed by the parent.
Example: We have a rule in the house, no throwing or kicking balls. When one of them throws a ball, they are reminded not to and if they do it again the ball will be taken away for the rest of the morning. My daughter decides to test this ultimatum and throws the ball. We take the ball, tell her why we are taking it and that she can have it back after lunch.
If a fit follows (it usually does), then we do our best to get our child to focus on playing or doing something different.
Timeouts are effective if used properly. I never had success with timeouts when I required my children to go to their room and sit still for any length of time. They would also get up, laugh and run around.
Another way to use timeouts is instead of removing the child from the problem, remove yourself from the child.
Example: My daughter is upset with me so she yells and hits me. I say to her, “That hurt me, do not hit, I am not going to play with you right now.” Once she apologizes I play with her again.
This reaction is great for two reasons, one it tells the child when a behavior is inappropriate and two it teachings about social situations. Kids will learn how other people will react to their behavior. No peers will want to play with a child that behaves negatively toward them.
Which Discipline Methods Do Not Work
Take Away a Privilege
I admit I have used this in the past. This happens when I cannot think of a natural or logical consequence quick enough. I just take away whatever toy my kid is favoring that moment or send them to their room. This is not a great tactic.
Example: My daughter is upset with me so she yells and hits me. I take away her favorite doll (even though she wasn’t playing with it) or I send her to timeout.
In this instance, she did not learn that hitting and yelling were not appropriate.
It is alright to take away a privilege when the consequence is logical (see above).
This is a controversial method. Many people disagree, but I do not believe that spanking a child is an acceptable form of discipline.
Research is proving that spanking a child is more detrimental than it is beneficial.
No one likes to have to discipline their child, but we know it is best for them. Use positive reinforcement at every opportunity, then fall back to the other consequences (natural, logical and timeout) when you must.
Some days you will overreact, sometimes you will make mistakes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Realize your mistake, apologize and find a better way to discipline next time.
Have you tried any or all of the techniques? What discipline method have you found to be most effective with your child?