Last night I attended a parent gathering at school to discuss “discipline” at home – a subject I find both fascinating and haunting. Fascinating because It’s something I’d love to be better at, and haunting because of what i’ve stooped to thus far. Sometimes I forget that the goal NOW is to parent in such a way that the RESULT is that my children are well adjusted, compassionate & competent adults.
Here are a few things I learned I learned last night….
1) Sitting on my small child’s chest while yelling “who’s da man?” is only going to cause resentment and require a hefty investment in psychotherapy later in life ( yes, I’m ashamed to admit, he has pushed me this far)
2) Negotiating with your child is a bad habit and if you do it – you teach a child NOT to accept your limits. Most of the time there is NOTHING to negotiate.
3) Stop making empty threats: you will lose your power and your credibility. Have a few rules and enforce them regularly with realistic consequences that actually work (I remember i once took away Halloween like three times before we went out trick or treating! )
4) Discipline *as much as possible using natural consequences: for instance ; If dinner is served and your child makes the choice not to eat it, he or she will go to bed hungry. Choosing NOT to eat the dinner causes the consequence of going to bed hungry. It’s a guarantee this behavior will not persist for very long and your child will stop fussing when you put dinner on the table ( imagine? – this is going to be a hard one for me) This does not mean, however that you allow your child to go outside without a coat and become cold if they so choose, but instead a natural consequence might be that they lose out on another privilege that might be important to them or that they be required to sit by themselves inside while everyone else play outdoors.
5) Your child is not your friend. Children need a competent adult who loves them without strings attached. When you try to be their best friend you rob them of their parent. Don’t make this mistake.
No matter what – discipline with consistency ( not consistently inconsistant) so that your child has a firm understanding of what his or her limits are. This also allows them the opportunity to self regulate later in life when you are not around.