We all know that the most important thing parents can give their children is love. But did you know that discipline is the second most important thing? Actually, love and discipline cannot be separated. In order to have a well adjusted, happy, confident child, making that child feel loved is the most important thing you can do. But love without discipline isn’t enough. Discipline is equally important.
So, what is discipline? It’s important to know that discipline is NOT punishment. Punishment is only a very small part of discipline. Discipline is training a child in mind and character to enable him to become a self-controlled, constructive member of society. It’s a set of rules, reward, and punishments administered to help teach your child self-control, increase desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable behaviors. Loving, positive discipline will help a child learn how to function in a family and a society that is full of boundaries, rules, and laws by which we all must abide. With it, children gain a sense of security, protection, and a feeling of accomplishment. Without proper discipline, children are at tremendous risk for a variety of behavioral and emotional problems.
Purpose And Ultimate Goal
While the purpose of child discipline is to develop and instill desirable social habits in children, the ultimate goal is to foster sound judgment and morals so the child will develop and maintain self-discipline throughout the rest of his or her life.
Guidelines And Boundaries
Discipline is giving your child a ‘track to run on’; guidelines and boundaries, as they find their way through this life. Think about it this way – can you imagine if you woke up in the morning, got into your car to drive to work and when you got out on the roads, there were no white lines, no yellow lines, no traffic lights, or signs, and no speed limit? That would be pretty scary. There would be cars all over the place going in all different directions! Not only would you not know what to do and where to go, but you wouldn’t be able to determine where someone else might be going or what they might be doing. Yikes! This is exactly what it feels like for a child with no discipline. Children want your guidance! They need your help!
The way parents discipline their children or don’t discipline them, has a significant impact on their development. Good parenting skills are accomplished by consistency, encouragement, and example.
Connecting With Parents
When a child feels genuinely loved, they want to identify with their parents and their values. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Unconditional love is crucial for good discipline. If a child does not feel genuinely loved and accepted, he will have tremendous difficulty identifying with his parents and will react to parental guidance with anger, hostility, and resentment. He will resist and even fight against his parents’ requests and instruction. Behavioral control techniques without a foundation of unconditional love may initially result in a child who is ‘well behaved’ when he is young, but the results, in the long run, will be devastating.
Unfortunately, many parents start to think about discipline only after negative behaviors begin. But think about this – a child doesn’t automatically know what is expected of them. They are looking to you to tell them. You need to spend time teaching them. Actually, you are teaching your child whether you know it or not, by your own actions. So be sure that you’re modeling the type of behavior you want from them.
Parents who wish to train up their children in the way they should go must go in the way in which they would have their children go.
Take a moment to understand and reflect upon your child’s feelings. Parents should know their children’s individual personalities and developmental stage. Let them know you understand that it’s difficult to be little and not be able to do what they want.
Children are learning how their behavior impacts the people around them. If your reaction to a situation keeps changing — one day you let your son throw a ball in the house and the next you don’t — you’ll confuse him with mixed signals. There’s no real timetable as to how many incidents and reprimands it will take before your child stops a certain misbehavior. But if you always respond the same way, he will most certainly ‘get it’ much quicker than if you’re inconsistent.
If you scream in anger, the message you’re trying to send will get lost and the situation will escalate, fast! Resist the urge to raise your voice. An angry reaction can also enhance the entertainment value for your child. Take a deep breath, count to three, and get down to your child’s eye level. Be fast and firm, serious and stern, but most important, be calm!
Young children need help. You’re bigger, stronger, more experienced and skilled at everything. Children, on the other hand, are just beginning to develop the ability to manage emotions and behavior, so waiting for things and wanting things they can’t have is very, very difficult. Once the limit has been set, help them succeed. Offer an alternative, and stay as calm and supportive as you can.
Your child needs your guidance. This world is a very scary place if they don’t have it. Don’t send them out on the streets without those white lines, yellow lines and traffic signals. They’re counting on you! Loving discipline is for their benefit, your benefit and will benefit everyone else.