Understanding why is discipline important rather than punishing is super helpful when it comes to positively disciplining your kids. Here are some helpful tips to help you!
Why is Discipline Important rather than Punishing and how to have Positive Discipline
Years ago I was working in my kitchen when I knocked over and spilled a drink on the center island. I let out a sigh and began to clean it up. One of my children was nearby and commented that if they had spilled that drink they would have been “in big trouble”.
This was one of those pivotal moments for me as a mother. I realized I was dealing out punishments far too often. At that moment I understood that I was using punishment to teach rather than using discipline. Something as routine as a spilled drink should never carry the fear of being “in big trouble”.
At that point, I knew there were some things I needed to change in my parenting methods. I began to contemplate why is discipline important, rather than punishment, and how as a mom I could begin my journey to positive discipline. Here are 6 ways to help you get on the path to positive discipline!
Start with Positivity
When you notice a behavior or action in our child that needs correction, use positive statements. So often we start to tell our kids what they did wrong and then proceed to lecture (without even realizing we are) how to do it the right way.
Rather than starting out with what they did wrong, begin with a positive statement. If your child hits another child your first instinct is to tell them “Don’t hit.” Instead, you can say “You are a really good friend to Sam, we don’t hit our friends.” Instead of your kids feeling shame they will know they are a good friend and learn how to continue that.
This is why discipline is important; it uses these moments to teach in a positive way.
Offer a Choice
The ability to choose can be very powerful to a child. In their world, they are constantly being told what to do. If your child is complaining about doing chores don’t fall into the argument trap. That will only end in dealing out a punishment. Instead, offer them a list of things and see what is the least awful to them. Some children hate vacuuming the floor but don’t mind doing dishes.
Another way to offer a choice is to allow them to choose which day they want to do which chore. Giving them the power of choice allows them to feel a sense of control. You have taught that it is required for them to contribute, but they can have a say in how.
Try Not to Allow Anger to Control Your Reaction
As a parent, it can be very difficult not to react with how you feel. Frustration and anger are two of the first things you feel when our children need correction. When you react in a way that your child can see and feel those emotions they will be afraid and shut down. The odds of them hearing anything you say in those emotional moments are very small.
If you need a minute before talking to your child take it! A deep breath, and a few seconds to formulate what you want to say can make a world of difference. Most children do not intentionally misbehave to make your life harder. Remember they are children who are constantly learning and they need your help.
Express to your child that you know they did not act out intentionally and give them a sense of relief.
When a child needs correction it is necessary to tell them that you know the behavior was not intentional. Telling them that you know this will relieve stress and shame. Every parent has stepped on Legos and our first instinct is to yell. Instead, you can say, “I know you did not mean to leave your legos on the floor, but I stepped on them in the middle of the night last night.” Then follow up with guidance on how to rectify the situation. “Let’s pick them up together and try and think of an easy way to remember to pick them up next time.”
This method teaches that the behavior or action needs to be corrected, but your child does not automatically feel the need to go into defense mode. This will also allow your child to build trust in you. Teaching in this way is why positive discipline is important.
Be sure you are paying attention to the positive and not just the negative.
The older children get, the less often you point out their positive qualities and behavior. When you recognize the positive more often than the negative they will seek attention in positive ways. Negative attention will reinforce a behavior simply because you are calling attention to it. If a behavior needs to be corrected, instead of pointing out what needs correction, teach what needs to happen instead.
If your child is pulling the cat’s tail you immediately want to say “Don’t pull on the cat’s tail”. Instead, you can intervene and teach the child how to play gently and pet the cat in an appropriate way. “Let’s softly pet the cat’s head, she doesn’t like having her tail pulled.” This will set the expectation for the next time they play with the cat. When you see your child playing gently, and practicing the positive behavior, take time to recognize it. This is another example of why positive discipline is important. It teaches new behavior rather than punishment of the old.
Have a positive relationship with your child.
Having a healthy parent-child relationship will help with effective discipline. Spend quality time with your children. Model appropriate behavior to build trust and help your kids develop the same behaviors for themselves. Also, be sure to not correct behaviors unless you see them happening. This can only be accomplished by spending time with your child.
Changing your parenting routine from punishing to teaching through discipline takes time and effort. Be sure to allow yourself room to grow and change your own behaviors too.
And there you have it! 6 easy ways on how you can discipline your child rather than punish! What would you add to these tips?
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Bridget is on of our interns currently finishing up a degree in Marriage and Family Studies. With 8 children and 1 grandchild, she strives to keep her family happy and healthy. She loves to read and if there is an opportunity for it, you will find her at the beach!