How to Effectively Discipline your Children...Before its too Late
Children are a gift from God. Children are the future of our world. Children are precious. Children are innocent, and sadly, too many children are OUT OF CONTROL! Why? Because parents have stopped disciplining their children or either they are disciplining them in an in effective manner. One sure fire way to know if your form of discipline is not working is to look at the behavior of your child. If he/she disregards your instruction, your feelings and your rules as well as the rules of others, then chances are you need to restructure the discipline being used in your child’s life. Before we talk about what is or is not effective discipline we first need to decide when discipline is appropriate.
Children start learning the minute they are brought into this world. They learn about their surroundings and about the people in their life. They learn to recognize their parents’ voices, scents and faces. They are works in progress from the very beginning and it is our jobs as parents to shape what it is they are going to learn. (Now before I continue, let me stop right here and say that there are some children who behave badly regardless of what their parents have done, but these children are the exception, not the rule.) As soon as a child reaches the age where he/she can explore its surroundings, discipline needs to start. This first form of discipline is a simple two-letter word; NO! Far too many parents have a problem telling their children no. We don’t to hurt their feelings or make them cry; we don’t want to appear as the bad guy; he’s just a baby. TOO BAD! If you can’t teach your children the meaning of the word no as a baby then why do you expect them to say no to peer pressure such as drugs, alcohol and sex later in life? And why would you expect them to listen to you when you finally to say no years down the road when it’s too late. You need to teach the meaning of no as soon as they start doing things they shouldn’t do. There is no need to shout the word at the child or scream in their faces. When your baby walks over and slams his hands into the TV screen, simply pull him away and tell him, “no,” or “no, no” followed by the child’s name. Chances are, he’s going to do it again as soon as his hand is free, but you need to again tell him no. The same thing applies when he touches other off limit things or puts things in his mouth that shouldn’t be. The child will learn that no means I can’t touch this, or eat this or do this. Eventually, you can simply say the word no before you child does something and he/she will know what it means. It usually only takes about a month for child to grasp this concept before they can even speak or walk! All it takes on your part is to be consistent. Don’t tell a child no one day and yes the next. This will confuse the child and he will not take your authority seriously. Be prepared; your child more than likely will cry every time you say no. He’s not crying because you hurt his feelings, he’s crying because he can’t do what he wants and he knows them. Welcome to your first tantrum. (Trust me, as he gets older, you’ll wish he would just cry when you say no!)
As the child is transitioning into toddler age (12-15 months) the world is brand new on his level. He can explore things that were out of reach before. He can go more places now that he can walk and he comprehends things better. This is the time when “no” needs to be accompanied by a light tap on the hand. There is no need to hit your child so hard that you leave marks or redness. That is most definitely abuse. (And as we reach the touchy subject of spanking, remember the Bible says “spare the rod, spoil the child,” it is highly possible to spank without abusing. ) At this age, your child is too small for time out. I don’t care what Supernanny says, I have three children. Time-out is NOT appropriate for this age. First of all, trying to get child who is just now mobile to sit still in a corner (even for one minute) is not going to happen. Secondly, they don’t understand why they’re in the “naughty corner” and stooping to their face explaining it is not going to make it clear to them what they did wrong. Saying no don’t do whatever and lightly tapping the hand is a clear statement that no, I can’t do this and if I do I will get this punishment. I am a fan of the three strikes rule with my children. The first time I give them the no. The second time, the get called by their name and in a stern (but not irate) voice they get, “mommy said no.” The point of calling their name is to let them know that yes, I am talking to you. The point of saying mommy is to assert the fact that when mommy has the authority to tell you no. The third time, I repeat, “Mommy said no,” followed by a light tap on the hand. They will scream and cry as if you just pulled their wisdom teeth out with no anesthesia but they’re not hurt, just angry. In less than two minutes, they’re over it. Once again, your being consistent is essential. Discipline your child every time it’s appropriate, even in public. I may lose some support on this one, but if the child is ripping things off the shelf in the store, he needs to be punished in the store. I’m mommy at all times, not just at home. It’s time out for letting society rule our homes. We are quick to blame society for the situation of the world, yet we conform to their ways because we’re afraid to stand up against them. Right is right, and as long as I am not beating or verbally abusing my child, no one is going to tell me that I can’t spank them or make me fearful to do so.
As the child moves on into the toddler stage the same rules generally apply. However, as they understand more (usually as the get closer to age two) you can now start using the time-out rule. They now know what it means when you say stay in the corner, and you can explain to them why they are there. However, the taping on the hand or bottom is not out ruled and the punishment should fit the crime. If the child is just breaking a simple rule or throwing a tantrum then a time-out and an explanation will usually do the trick. However, if the child is doing something completely outrageous and knows better, a simple 1-3 taps on the bottom or hand are appropriate. You should NEVER hit your child with all your might, but you do need to let them know you mean business. They have to not want to get a spanking for a spanking to be effective. This is another reason that time-out sometimes doesn’t work if it’s applied too early. If the child doesn’t care about going to the corner then it’s not really a punishment and it won’t deter any behavior.
The next stage in a child’s life involves taking things away that are important to the child. This is a good time to start teaching responsibility as well. If the child takes his plate off of the table after dinner, give him extra dessert. If the child puts his toys away without you telling him, give him a piece of candy. If the child gets in trouble at school, then keep him from watching his favorite show that night, or put his favorite toy away. This is your time to let the child know that in order to receive things from you, he has to give some things up. This is your chance to teach that good behavior and following the rules results in rewards while bad behavior and disobeying results in losing something important. Spanking and time-outs are still appropriate and the punishment once again should fit the crime. If it’s a repeat behavior issue, then sometimes the punishment may need to rise to the higher level to let the child know it will not be tolerated by you. You are the parent, and your child needs to know that. This concept generally works throughout the grade school age with taking things away turning into taking privileges away such as movies, birthday parties or field trips.
Now, by the time a child reaches junior high, whether you want to admit it or not, it’s too late to spank your child. We all joke about how our mother would have done this or done that, but the truth is our mother’s didn’t have to because we already knew better before we reached that age. That is because our mother trained us when we were younger in the ways that I just spoke about in the previous paragraphs. At this point in a child’s life you need to start loosening the reigns a bit. Allow them time to hang out with their friends (but not so late that they need a curfew). When they mess up (which all children will do), punish them by taking away the ever so powerful computer. (GASP) Ground them from hanging out for a few days or talking on the phone. Don’t just let them do something they’re not supposed to, tell them it’s wrong and why and then expect them not to do it again. This is around the time that children start to develop that disrespectful attitude also. Meet disrespect with disrespect. I don’t mean shout or curse at your children, I mean let them know that you respect them by letting them have some freedoms and take those freedoms away. Would you rather wait until the court does it? Allowance at this age should start coming at a price. No more candy for cleaning without me telling you. No cleaning= no allowance. Bad grades= more time spent on homework; less time spent on the phone. Bad behavior at school= less time hanging out with your friends; more time at home with me so I can monitor your behavior. This age group is essential for reasserting the fact that you are the parent and your rules are not to be broken. Your child does not have to fear you in order to fear the consequences of their actions. They need to fear what will happen if they don’t behave as they have been taught. They need to fear not being to go the dance, they need to fear not getting allowance, and they need to fear losing computer time. If they don’t fear your rules, what makes you think they will fear the rules of the school other adults or the laws of this nation?
As pre-teens become teens and we give them more freedoms discipline should almost be unnecessary. Most children between the ages of 15-18 who have been properly trained and raised have got it together at that point. They are probably still going to do something that we think is absolutely stupid, but that’s just a part of growing up. Now is the time to sit down and talk with them. Share something stupid that you did growing up and don’t try to make your children think you were a Saint. Let them know that we all make mistakes and that just as our Father in heaven forgives us, you forgive them. However, some form of a punishment is still necessary but make sure it fits the crime and make sure they know the world isn’t over because they made a mistake. During this critical age of trust and freedom we still have to remember what kind f world we live in. Children don’t always make the wisest decisions and we need to step in at times even when they hate us for it. If the Skating Rink is “the spot” to hang out but it is always filled with drug dealers, thugs or alcoholics, don’t allow your child to go. Monitor that cell phone every now and then. Take a look at that Face book page once or twice a month. They are your responsibility until they’re 18 whether they like it or not. Teach them that it’s more important to be accepted into college than into the cool clique. Don’t put so much emphasis on how popular or how smart your child is. If you accept your child for who he/she is then he will do the same. Let your child explore things that you know they will probably fail at and build them up after they do, or better yet, find a way to help them exceed. Give them options in life and support their decisions. Everyone’s not going to be a doctor, an athlete a rock star. If my daughter’s a beautician and my son’s a garbage man I will love them just the same. I will teach them the same values, and I will expect just as much from them and I will be just as proud of them as I would if they were an engineer and a brain surgeon.
Our children will make plenty of friends in life and lose plenty too, but they need us to be parents. We can be friends when they have children and they finally understand what being a parent all is about. You can discipline and train your children without ruining your relationship with them. Do fun things together and share funny stories about yourself. Take them to church and teach them about God. Our children are our future and it is our responsibility to make sure they have one. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”