The Truth About Effective Child Discipline
The question of how to discipline an unruly child is one of the biggest conundrums parents have to deal with. As a parent, how do you know when to use effective child discipline techniques?
Often, distracted or busy parents fail to explain their desired goals and expectations for setting appropriate consequences and behavioral limits with their children – especially if their parents were not clear on these from the beginning. If they have any doubts about the methods being considered, parents can find themselves in a frustrating position: explaining their standards but refusing to follow them because of emotional concerns.
It’s a catch-22 situation that no family wants to be in. The first step toward effective child discipline is recognizing that you are the judge. In other words, you have to set the ground rules so that you and your spouse and siblings can feel comfortable with the arrangement. Children are more receptive to positive changes and positive reinforcement if they see their parents enforcing consequences and restrictions.
Be consistent and firm, but don’t give in to tantrums or whining – this will only make matters worse. Remember, setting ground rules is the first step towards disciplining your children positively. Another effective child discipline method is rewarding good behavior. Children are much more likely to understand good behavior consequences than bad behavior, so parents who choose to emphasize consequences without rewarding good behavior may discourage positive behaviors.
However, rewards can also be a powerful motivator for positive behaviors, especially when paired with a short reinstatement period (at the end of negative behavior). Another effective child discipline technique is to address the undesirable behavior itself. Many parents inadvertently punish their children when they reinforce undesirable behavior through harsh punishment – such as disciplining them when they eat too much, when they scratch their elbow on the table, or when they put the television up when they’re watching television.
Punishing with negative consequences often works better than punishment because it makes parents feel better about the child’s behavior. This makes them more willing to encourage the desired behavior instead of punishing it. A third common method of effective child discipline is to reward positive behaviors instead of punishing them. Parents commonly praise their children when they behave desirably, rather than punishing them when they do something they don’t want to do.
Praise and reward not only provide emotional relief but positive suggestions about how to improve the behavior. Some parents even use positive reinforcements to help reinforce the desired behavior by telling their children what types of behaviors they’ve rewarded in the past and encouraging them to repeat them. Parents may also try to find other ways to get their children to pay attention to what they do right instead of just focusing on what they don’t do right.
Parents should also remember that their children learn through positive reinforcement and modeling. They need to see that their parents care about their behavior and are willing to make an effort to correct it if necessary. By modeling their behavior after you, as the parent, they will be more likely to be consistent with you. The best way to model good behavior is through positive reinforcement and consequences. Still, you can also model your child’s behavior by trying your best to understand what might have led to the misbehavior in the first place.
Once you understand the behavior and why it happened, you can fix it and make sure that your child is not misbehaving again. Effective child discipline does not mean being cold-hearted. Parents should never shout at their children, whether they do something good or bad. Shouting children will only cause them to do the same thing again, regardless of what you’ve taught them. This sends a clear message that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.
Most importantly, parents should work hard to understand the natural reactions that their child has towards punishment and rewards. Some children can handle rewards and punishment very well. Others, while they may seem to do well with these techniques, actually do better when they don’t get rewarded. By giving them options, they are less likely to misbehave.
Suppose you punish your child without understanding his behavior and only resort to punishment when you think he is misbehaving. In that case, you will only confuse him and create a negative cycle in his learning structure.