To many people, discipline means verbal or physical punishment. But actually, "to discipline" means "to teach", so discipline should be a positive way of helping and guiding children toward self-discipline. Parental beliefs about what is good discipline will have a great effect on how children live their lives and get along with others.
Ways you can discipline your children without hitting them
- Set a good example. Children learn more by how parents act than by what they say.
- Praise children for their accomplishments. Let children know you appreciate their efforts.
- Involve children as much as possible in making family rules and decisions. Children are less likely to break rules that they have helped establish. Involve them in determining the consequences for breaking the rules, too, so they know what they’re risking.
- Try to ignore unwanted behavior unless it is causing harm to people or is otherwise destructive. But do be honest with a child about the behavior that is annoying to you or other adults.
- Act quickly when young children behave inappropriately. Their attention span is short, so they may not link the action to the discipline if the time is too great.
- Help your child develop inner control. Remember that young children do not have the self-control needed to follow all the rules all the time, so don’t place temptation in their path.
- Encourage independence in your children. Let them make decisions that affect their lives, such as what clothes to wear or what food to order in a restaurant.
- Take time to listen especially if they have a problem. Offer guidance if they ask for it, but don’t impose your views on them. They can only learn if they think out the answer themselves.
- Be flexible. Some rules may work when a child is young but are not necessary as the child gets older and more independent.
- Set consequences that are not harmful in any way, but ones that the child does not like. For example, remove the child from a stimulating environment or take away certain privileges for a set period of time.
- Logically relate consequences to the behavior. For example, if your child does not pick up his toys when he is supposed to, take them away for a few hours or a few days, depending on the age of the child.
- Provide the consequence as a choice, so that it is the child’s decision. For example, if your child is playing too roughly with other children, you could say, "Your behavior is upsetting me and the other children. You can either play gently with them or go for ‘time-out.’ You decide."
- Give children responsibilities, including household chores. Having something important to do can help children achieve independence and develop high self-esteem.