Some mothers find it difficult to discipline, because they do not want to be “harsh” or “unkind” to their children. Enforcing boundaries teaches submissiveness. Setting rules trains a child to conform, avoiding the constant need to punish a child for disobedience. Even in the immediate present, the predictability of structured, consistent discipline makes a child feel secure and safe.
Other mothers find it challenging to discipline because they don’t know how. Let us now focus on consequences. Consequences are an excellent deterrent, which teaches children to obey in the long run. In this column, we will highlight various other options, mostly tailored for younger children, which encourage discipline.
1. Pre-planning: You know the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” How about thinking of a new twist; plan the failures? Every family has several tough spots, which are a constant challenge. As a mother, you know what they are. If for the past five months, you’ve been yanking your seven-year-old out of bed, so that he can make the bus, why do you feel flustered and unprepared every morning? Designate a quiet moment to plan for those inevitable crises and design a course of action. After all, it’s always easier to think when you’re not under pressure and you’re not emotionally involved-yet! Once you’ve hit on a plan, you will be so much more confident and relaxed. Often, your children will intuitively sense your confidence and therefore, comply more readily.
2. Authoritarian Commanding: When you ask your child to do something, demand it with confidence. You are the parent. You are the authority. You have the final say in your house. A child can tell if his mother is wishy-washy, uncertain or unconfident; he will cash in on that weakness to wheedle his way out.
3. When-Then: A very smart way to get children to comply is by using “When-Then.” For example, “When you finish dinner, then you can have dessert,” or “when you brush your teeth, then you can read your book.” Thereby, you stress the anticipated behavior, and you strengthen the child’s motive to listen. Just remember to stick to the deal!
4. The Broken Record: The theory behind The Broken Record is that persistence pays off. If your child ignores you, repeat your words in an emphatic, firm manner. Do not raise your voice or express emotion. Just repeat your words…until your child gets the message. For example: Now it’s time to do your homework…Homework time is now…I hear what you’re saying, but homework time is now…
5. Forced Compliance: Forced compliance works for little ones. When they are not listening, you can “force” them to do the proper action, and then, thank them for it. For example, cup your hand over your four-year-old’s and forcibly have him pass you the saltshaker. Then, say thank you. Or, you put your hand on your seven-year-old’s shoulder and walk him into his bedroom…
6. Forced Resistance: If your little one is misbehaving or hurting others, you can forcibly put him on your lap and hold him tightly. While he squirms, tell him, “As soon as you calm down, I will let you go. As soon as you are in control, you can continue playing…” This relaxes the child and forces him to lose his previous momentum.
7. Distraction: If you would like your child to stop a negative behavior and want to avoid conflict, you can distract him or re-focus his behavior in a positive way. This usually works-and is a wonderful tactic to use at times that it is unfeasible or undesirable to use other disciplining tactics. For example, your children are fighting. Take out a game and divert their attention.
8. Training Camp: For an infrequent, creative disciplining alternative when a child does not conform to one of your house’s systems, you can tell the child that you’ll be setting up a “Training Camp,” so that the child can practice behaving. Make sure to do it at a time that is unpleasant for your child to be busy “training how to eat nicely” or “sit at dinner,” such as when he wants to go play or enjoy his free time. Have your child go through the steps of the proper behavior until he does it satisfactorily. If your daughter is stretching her bedtime preparations too long, have her get into her pajamas on one Sunday afternoon and practice the whole procedure from beginning to end, including brushing her teeth, until she does it quickly enough. Usually, the child does not want to attend this “Training Camp” more than once.