How to discipline your child appropriately

During the summer time, there is a growing strain on parents. The kids are home from school and sometimes, your patience wears thin. You love your kids, but sometimes, they get on your last nerves. Now at the back of your mind you know that they're just kids and your expectations for them aren't too lofty. You don't expect them to be perfect little angels all the time, but sometimes you feel like they are NEVER perfect little angels. Over the next few weeks I'll be giving you tips on how to manage your kids appropriately so that both you and them can co-exist in a happy and healthy way. Now doesn't that sound fun? Here are some simple tips to get you started:

1) Set clear rules: Often times when I talk to parents, I notice that their rules for their kids are either non existent or very unclear. Parents spend a lot of time telling kids what not to do and little to no time telling them what to actually do. So for example, if your kids have a habit of running in the house, rather than yelling 100 times "Don't Run!!" Tell them exactly what you want them to do in a simple, clear, calm sentence. Be age appropriate. So if your child is 3, you won't give him 10 rules-he can't remember all that. Say something like "Please [yes say please] walk carefully in the house." Now your child knows the rules. You can even have him repeat them after you.

A quick assignment for you. Write out 5 simple rules your kids can follow, have a discussion with your kids about the rules, make sure they actually understand them, then post them in a public place such as your kitchen or living room. This sets a clear expectation for your kids.

Now you will have to refer to the rules several times until your kids get used to them, it's just a part of a parent's life. Don't be frustrated. I'm sure you've broken a few rules in your day. 

2) Have a clear discussion with your child when the rules have been broken: After setting the rules, explaining them to your child and posting them in a public place, understand that your child will still break the rules. Rather than losing it, be prepared. Now this is to be used when your child breaks a minor rule e.g. he runs in the house, spills a glass of water, breaks a toy-something minor. 

Call the child, remind him about the rule ("We walk calmly in the house"). Then tell him the reason for the rule ("We walk calmly so that we don't break something or hurt ourselves"). Third, give him an opportunity to practice the rule ("Now please go back and walk like a big boy"). And just like that you've helped your child practice advanced reasoning. If all you did was yell, your child would just learn that you're a great yeller. But if you follow those 3 easy steps, he'll get to remember the rules, the reasons for the rules and have the opportunity to practice. See the difference?

3) Ignore your child sometimes: Sometimes ignoring your child is all the discipline he needs. When your child exhibits very minor behavior, sometimes all you have to do is ignore him. What that teaches him is that you will only reward him with your attention when he is following your rules. A great example of this is whining. When you're at the store and your child is nagging you about buying him some candy, simply ignore. Note that sometimes his voice will escalate and he might throw himself on the floor-don't be embarrassed. Stand your ground, don't make eye contact and keep moving. When you do this multiple times he will learn that he cannot always get his way.

But if you buy him the candy he'll learn that all he has to do is scream and throw himself on the floor to get himself some candy-not the message you want to send.

4) Give a logical consequence: And other times you actually have to punish your child. But make sure it's logical. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill. Remember to use age appropriate punishments. So for example, if your child breaks a toy on purpose, the punishment could be taking away another treasured toy, only after explaining why he is being punished this way. Always give your child an opportunity to redeem himself after the punishment is over. This is very essential as you want your child to get as much practice as he can in actually following the rules. Too many parents just go about punishing without actually teaching their children anything. Your role isn't to be the executioner-it's to be the coach, confidante and guide-don't forget that.

So go ahead and try the 4 steps above and comment below to let me know how it goes for you. If you happen to be in the Murrieta area and you are interested in learning more skills to improve your bond with your child and improve parenting skills, give me a call at 951-905-3181 or email me here. 

In my 8-week Toddlers to Tweens parenting skills class in Murrieta, I equip parents with kids ages 2 to 10 on skills that'll help them parent with confidence. It's never too late to learn effective parenting skills.