10 tips for being a more disciplined parent
By Leslie A. Panfil
1. Consistency Pays Off. Say what you will do and do what you say. Tips 2-10 will be for not if you don’t follow through with consistency. When your child can count on you to follow through on the consequences of their actions, they feel secure.
2. Be Specific. It’s not enough to say, “I expect you to behave.” Remind your child to say please and thank you; use their inside voice; keep their hands to themselves; don’t belch at the table. The one thing you forget to tell them to do or not to do is sure to be the thing they will do to your complete horror. So, see these situations as learning lessons and move on.
3. Prepare. You know what your child does wrong on a regular basis. They don’t clean their room, talk back, complain about their chores . . . Develop consequences for these actions, communicate them to your child and follow through. Occasionally, they will do something you never even considered they would get into and you may have to come up with a consequence or combination of consequences. Be sure the consequence doesn’t punish you more than your child. Do you really want your child to not play outside ALL day? Also, consider if your consequence is age appropriate. How long a 2 year old can stay in time out is different than a 5 year old.
4. Change it Up. Making your child stay in his room is punishment on a glorious sunny day but not much of one on a raining one or if they room rivals a Toys R Us store. Taking away their favorite video game is not much of a consequence if the one you are taking away is “so yesterday.” Staying on top of what your child truly values will help you come up with just the right consequence.
5. Be on the Same Page. Like a great military strategist, your child will divide and conquer if you and your spouse do not put up a united force. Agree to disagree about disciplining your child in private. Have a prepared phrase to use that lets your spouse know you want to discuss this before laying down the law.
6. Slow Down. While sometimes consequences should be immediate, it can sometimes be prudent to slow and calm down. Before you say or do something rash, ask yourself do I feel like lashing out at my child because what they did was so horrific, or are you tired or frustrated over the totality of your day.
7. Say it Quietly. Some of my scariest moments I can remember when I was a child weren’t when my parents yelled but when their voice was calm, quiet and forceful.
8. Eye to Eye. Communication is most effective when you make eye contact. It is important that your child see the disappointment in your eyes that is part of the consequence of doing something wrong.
9. Master the Look. With practice, you can master that look that stops your child dead in their tracks. Probably the toughest of all of these tips but, will pay off in a myriad of situations. Mine consists of my eyes getting really big and my lips tightly pursed.
10. Catch Them Doing Something Right. When your child has behaved nicely, let them know how proud you are of them and always pass along compliments others share with you about them. Take the time to put it in writing. I’m a big fan of hand written notes. From time to time, I write my daughter a note to say how proud I am of her and that I value how polite and kind she is to others.
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