Society is full of prescriptions for handling a child’s misbehavior. You can’t escape nanny shows, advice from an empathetic mom or the outspoken advice from your childless coworker. Here are some mindful discipline tips.
You’ve probably tried small time-outs, counting 1-2-3, various forms of punishment, bribing, nagging and offering rewards to keep your kids in line.
So why haven’t they worked? At least not longer than a day or two?
Don’t worry. There are good reasons why some of the most popular parenting techniques fall short—and I can tell you, as an authority on stress-free parenting, that other parents who use them struggle just as much as you do.
Each technique is flawed, focusing our kids on the things we don’t want them to learn and not on the way towards helping them make better decisions in the future.
I’ll first describe why two of the most popular techniques don’t work and then describe one that does.
1) Traditional Time Out
It’s hard to find a parent nowadays who hasn’t used a traditional time-out at one time or another. For many, it’s their “go-to” strategy. Part of the reason for the traditional time-out’s popularity is because it became the only known alternative to spanking. However, the traditional time-out doesn’t guarantee that it is effective in correcting misbehaviors in the long term. If used in the traditional way, it:
a) Invites power struggles
b) Neglects to teach important life lessons
2) Counting 1-2-3
Another popular parenting strategy recommends counting as a way to put a stop to misbehavior, theoretically allowing children time to correct their inappropriate actions. This may work the first time, but soon you’ll find yourself saying, “One, Two Three…three and a half, three and three quarters…”
The main problem with the 1-2-3 technique is that instead of training your child to reconsider his actions, you’re actually teaching him to ignore you multiple times before finally listening and obeying (if you’re lucky).
While you do need to give your child enough time to correct misbehavior or make a different choice, this strategy just teaches kids that immediate action is never necessary. They’re actually rewarded by ignoring you for as long as possible! Plus, it surely doesn’t teach them how to be self-disciplined or how to choose the right behaviour.
So, now that you understand why these two strategies don’t work long term and don’t teach what we truly want to teach our children, then what is the best and most effective discipline strategy?
Let’s start by coming to terms with one fact: the reason we need to discipline our children at times is because we have a responsibility as a parent. And that responsibility is to train our kids to be happy, healthy and successful adults.
If this is our goal, then what needs to be present?
4 Tips for Mindful Discipline
1) Fulfillment of Their Basic Emotional Needs
Kids will misbehave if their emotional tanks are not full, so be sure that they are consistently getting positive physical contact, eye contact and one-on-one time (without anyone else around).
2) Good Role Models
What children see becomes what’s normal and okay for them. So, do a self-check to see if you and your spouse are speaking and acting the way you encourage your children to.
Children misbehave most commonly when they’re hungry, tired, bored or over-stimulated. Be sure that a slow, consistent routine is present in their lives – one that includes regular sleeping, eating, and alone times.
4) A Simple, Concise and Consistent Form of Discipline
Believe it or not, fair, simple and consistent discipline is what children crave. It makes them feel loved, cared for and safe. Without this, they’ll keep searching for it, like one does when trying to find a light switch in a dark room.
Use concise phrases describing what your child needs to do.
If need be, offer a choice. An example would be: “You can put your coat on here or in the car. What would you like?”
And finally, if need be, honor your child’s choice by applying a logical consequence OR let a natural one do the teaching.
Keep it simple, keep it concise, keep it consistent. This is the best, most time effective way to discipline.
Happy Mother’s Day to you! I honor you and celebrate you for all the good you do.