Parents, beware of discipline errors!
Published on September 1, 2014
You give your child an ultimatum — “Finish your homework or I’m not buying you that toy”— and naturally he says, “Fine, don’t!” Might as well stamp a big ‘loser’ on your face…
Yes, we often see discipline efforts backfiring on us, but all said and done, you definitely need to prove you’re the parent. The Community lists discipline landmines you need to avoid…
COOKING UP STORIES
It’s never good to lie just to get your mission accomplished. If you scare your child by saying, “Eat your food or else the caveman will take you away,” s/he will finish the meal for sure, but will live in constant fear of that “invisible caveman”. Not only will s/he hate mealtimes, but will also develop a dislike towards food. Scare tactics can come back to bite you in the butt, so it’s best to be honest. Empathising with your child may make life easier.
Kelly Jones, mother of two, says, “My son Ollie, 11, went for a play date at his friend’s house. His friend Tom kept snatching away whatever toy Ollie picked up. His mum kept threatening: ‘Give that back to Olie or I’ll take it away’. Of course, as soon as Olie picked up another toy, Tom wanted that one.” Repeatedly threatening dilutes your point. Give one warning and if your child does it again, give a time-out. If s/he continues, leave. The next time, a gentle reminder should do the trick.
BRIBING A LITTLE TOO OFTEN
If you offer your child a piece of chocolate to just finish her lunch, then you are in for trouble. Your child will eat her chicken and fries — but then demand another treat at dinnertime. Yes, we all need to keep a good bribe up our sleeves, but reinforcing good behaviour is a better way to go. So instead of saying: ‘If you’re good at grandma’s today, I’ll buy you a toy’, try ‘I’m really proud of you for sitting so nicely during dinner.’ And never underestimate the power of disappointment.
BREAKING YOUR OWN RULES
Children are famous for being little mimics. They can quickly emulating your bad behaviour and may even call you on it. So if you have set certain rules for your child, try to follow them yourself.
FORGETTING YOUR CHILD’S AGE
Before you discipline your child, consider his or her developmental age. When your baby spills her food, for example, you don’t expect her to clean it up. When your toddler dumps his cereal and then denies it, he’s only lying because he wants to please you because he sees you’re not smiling. And if your preschooler dumps his broccoli on the floor? Well, you know the answer there. So what works for an older child may not work for a younger one.
NOT SHOWING A UNITED FRONT
It’s alright if you and your partner prefer to use different punishments. However, there should be consequences for the same actions. Showing a united front won’t just help your child behave better, it’ll also prevent you from feeling like the bad guy all the time. You have to make your understand that mum and dad are a team.
A SHARP ‘NO’ CONVEYS THE MESSAGE THAT YOU’RE NOT PLEASED. DEAL WITH A SITUATION QUICKLY, THEN DISTRACT YOUR CHILD
LOSING YOUR TEMPER
Taking care of an active toddler requires a lot of patience. Therefore, it’s important not to lose your temper. Remember, time-outs aren’t just for kids — they work great for adults, too. So give yourself permission to walk away if you get angry. Take a deep breath, count to 10, and then you’ll be much more effective while disciplining your child. Don’t forget kids are expert at pushing your buttons, but if you can avoid letting the situation escalate by giving one warning and then an immediate consequence, it may help keep you both calm.
“Get your coat!” “Brush your teeth!” “Clean your room!” Bossing your child around isn’t the best way to get him to behave. When you command your child to do something, his or her body will tend to stiffen and the brain will send the message to resist. Instead, ask your child a question such as: ‘How can we make sure no one trips on all these toys in your room?’ or ‘How can you make your teeth feel clean?’. This lets her body relax while her brain searchers for an answer. Asking questions invites the child to think for herself and helps her feel more capable, connected and likely to cooperate.
LEAVING OUT THE LEARNING LESSON
It’s easy for parents to say: ‘Don’t do that!’ ‘Stop that!’ or ‘That’s wrong!’ However, these commands only stop the action — they have no educational value. Remember, ‘don’t’ commands are discouraging and require kids to double-process — they have to first consider ‘What does she not want me to do?’ and then figure out ‘What does she want me to do instead?’” It’s better to just cut to the chase and calmly tell your child what specific action you’d like her to take. Therefore, make sure that when you discipline your child they learn why a behaviour is inappropriate or dangerous and what a better alternative is.
GETTING BACK ON TRACK
You gave a warning, then caved in. Or you yelled at your kid for yelling at you.
GET OVER IT: We all make mistakes. So don’t beat yourself up. Just say: ‘I know I did something I shouldn’t have. Let’s try to follow these rules from now on.’
TAKE IT SLOW: Even if you feel like your discipline techniques need to be completely overhauled, just pick two of your top issues and start there. Don’t overwhelm your child with 20 new rules. Sit down when your child is calm and go over the rules so that s/he knows what’s expected.
WORK AROUND IT: Let’s say your child always has a tantrum over what to eat for breakfast. Rather than duke it out each morning, offer your child just two choices — say, cereal or eggs — so he can still feel in control.
GIVE IT TIME: It takes time to undo a pattern of bad behaviour. If you start being consistent, they’ll catch on. It may take 10 or 20 times, but they’ll get it..So give it time…and the good behaviour will start.