Positive Ways To Teach Your Child Discipline
The idea of discipline being synonymous with punishment is ingrained in our brains. The first thing we think of when we hear the word “discipline” is usually something negative.
However, did you know that the word discipline originates from the Latin word ‘disciplina’ which means teaching, which in turn comes from ‘discipulus’ which literally translates to pupil?
For whatever reason, over the years, discipline has gone from meaning “to teach” to “to punish”!
So, how do we go back from “to punish” to “to teach”?
Here are a few tips to get started:
There are no bad kids, just bad behaviour
This is the basic understanding of the positive discipline concept. Once we as parents recognize that our kids are not bad, they are just behaving badly, the rest of it will slowly fall in place. For instance, if your child hits another child. The first thing you might feel is probably embarrassment or shame, followed closely by a fear that your child may have a “mean” streak. If you go with that feeling and call your child a “bold girl” or “naughty boy” you reinforce the negative image of your child both in your own mind and in your child’s.
Your child may just be hungry/sleepy/tired or any of the hundred different stress triggers that may have made her act out. In other words, something in your child’s environment is influencing your child to behave badly. When we accept that it was just a behaviour that was bad, and the child herself is fine-teaching instead of punishing becomes easier. For example, instead of screaming, “Why did you do that?” you will be in a much better situation to say “That wasn’t very good behaviour – we do not hit our friends”.
Instead of pointing out what your child did wrong, teach them how to set things right
Building on the example above, let’s consider the best case scenario first where you catch your child before she actually hits. However, instead of saying “Don’t hit” or “NO hitting” try saying “Use your words” or “Ask nicely”. When you say “Don’t hit” it does not give the child any information of what she should be doing instead. Without that knowledge, she may just end up going with her original plan to hit or she may choose to go with some other option which is equally as bad – like pushing the other kid.
Now, on the other hand, if you catch the child after the incident, convey that what she did was wrong and give her an “out”. For example, you could say “That was not a good choice, we don’t hit our friends. Do you want to say sorry and make her feel better?” and if your child is not ready to say sorry yet (mine usually needs some time), you can continue with “Until we are ready to say sorry, let’s sit here and read a book”
Be kind but firm-show empathy and respect
Now, in her mind, what she did was right and justified. It can be very frustrating when she insists on some wrong behaviour as being right. As parents, instead of arguing back, we just need to stay calm and repeat what we said in a kind manner but very firmly. For instance, repeat “Hitting hurts, we do not hit our friends” and “Yes, sharing is good, but we do not hit someone even if they don’t share” and different variants of it, over and over without losing temper or raising your voice.
It also helps to show some empathy – for instance, “You really want the doll that she is playing with, but hitting is not nice.” Just by empathizing with your child that she really wants the doll, you can win half the battle.
Written by Laura Doyle staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.lovelifeandlittleones.com.