What Kids Need: Parental Discipline
Okay, you have established some rules, set some consequences, negotiated this upfront in advance of a big problem, and solicited your child’s feedback. Now what? Now, you must enforce those consequences as agreed. Enforcing discipline isn’t pleasant or even natural, but it is necessary. Kids need to know what you mean by business and that you will follow through with what you say. As a high school administrator for many years, I have had parent-student conferences where the parent has said something they are going to do due to their child’s behavior and have had the child say, “You won’t do it.” What?!? Are you kidding? That cannot be, well, yes, it can. Follow-through is vital to raising successful kids.
At the high school where I worked for many years, the rules were so clear to kids that when something would happen, like a fight in the hallway, the kids would come into my office, and my first question was, “What do we do around here with kids that fight?” They would always cite the policy and the punishment before I had even to say anything. Then I would say, Okay, now, let’s find out what happened first before we predetermine the following steps, but I am glad that you know school policy. The discussion would ensue from there. Giving punishment to them was much more comfortable because they knew already what was going to happen. I have had kids even say, “It was worth it.” Well, that depends, I would say, but at least for them at that moment, it seemed worth it, knowing what would happen next.
Be sure that when you are disciplining your child, the discussion and process of applying the discipline are not a result of your frustrations with life or with them. So often, our anger about something else or even allowing something to grow into a significant irritation causes an argument resulting in discipline. Now to the child, the penalty results from the fight, not from the incident itself. Be sure to separate the two and discuss things that can grow into something big in advance while tempers are cool.
Applying consistent discipline to kids is so important. I have a friend whose daughter is two years old. She said she wanted a drink of water, so she went to the kitchen by herself, got a soda pop out of the refrigerator, and drank it right before bedtime. He was angry and confronted her appropriately, but she just shrugged and told him that she wanted a soda pop. He did nothing. Now that may or may not be cute at the age of two, what about an incident of higher escalation when she is 13 or 14? It definitely won’t be attractive, and she will know from past experiences that she has the upper hand. It will backfire with the parent making it much more challenging to get things back on track. Discipline, when done appropriately, is very useful in upholding standards of behavior for kids. Enforcing discipline serves them well in terms of self-discipline, self-esteem, and self-control. These three areas are crucial when they are personally confronted with those “moments of decision” in their own lives when you are not around. If we don’t teach them to apply self-control to themselves now, it will not get more comfortable, and in the long run, we are doing them a tremendous disservice.
I challenge you reading this to begin by establishing some rules of conduct, setting some consequences, negotiating upfront the consequences, and then enforcing them. Start simple and work from there; you will be so glad that you did this when teenagers.
At times kids are just defiant and difficult. Here is a link to give you some ideas Raising Defiant Kids – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)
Very Well Family has a article on 7 Effective Ways to Handle Defiant Kids 7 Effective Ways to Handle Defiant Children (verywellfamily.com)
Yours for Better Parenting,