Children thrive in environments where there is structure and routine. Most everyone feels comfortable when they know what to expect in the situations they are getting themselves into. Because children have very little control of their circumstances and surroundings, creating a structured environment can give them something to rely on.
Once the structure and routine are in place, expectations can be given, taught, and nurtured.
We teach reading, swimming, math, driving, and also need to teach children how to behave. We live in a society where we are quick to punish.
Instead, why not create places where children have input, creativity, control, and expectations that create the positive behavior we are looking for? This can be in the classroom and at home. In the store and at church.
“Often, we equate the term “discipline” with punishment. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplina,” which means “teaching, learning.” That’s the key to correcting our kids’ behaviors – giving them the tools they need to learn a better behavior.” (McCready, 2016)
I learned that the steps to discipline can be:
- Fill your child’s bucket and mind with positive time and attention.
- We are busy, there is no doubt about that. But we have to make time to put the phone down, turn off the TV, and turn and look our children in the eyes. Taking your child on a walk or just playing an old fashioned board game can give you insight to who your child is becoming. Don’t forget, children feel stress and need to unwind as well.
- Take time for training.
- The best way I have found to get the behavior I expect is by modeling it. With giving my child time with me, I play with them. As an adult, we have often forgotten how to play. My daughter wanted to play “animals” with me one day. I felt so stupid getting on the floor, barking like the “mamma dog,” and playing. After 10 minutes, it began to become fun, and I was able to be kind to my child when she hurt her paw, teach her patience when she “growled” at her sister for interrupting, and give her love when she cuddled in my lap. As we play more and more together through tea parties, dolls, and princess games, I can teach her how to be tolerant of others and the expectations I have for her in her behavior as a person.
- Set limits and stick with them
- I have often witnessed parents and teachers alike that give warning after warning with no follow through. “Sara, if you jump on the couch again, I am turning off the TV.” or “Jon, if you don’t stop getting up to sharpen your pencil, I am going to keep you in from recess for 5 minutes.” All without acting on the said threat. Children know when you are bluffing and will continue to misbehave. As the adult, you have to say what you mean. Which means, you have to have limits, mean what you say and act on it.
Help children make the right choice. Model for them what that looks like in all aspects. Remember- they are watching you. Be a good example.
McCready, Amy (2016). “3 tips to discipline without punishment”, Positive Parenting Solutions.