Parents typically have the goal of raising happy healthy children. One of the biggest controversies today is the proper way to maintain happiness and healthiness while disciplining.
Most parents are at a complete loss when it comes to disciplining their kids. How many times have we heard or said “I just don’t know what to do” or “nothing works”? Many young parents were raised under the saying “spare the rod, spoil the child” and are looking for a different way to teach appropriate behavior. A popular method is disciplining with love. But what does that mean? How can you discipline in a loving way? It was a confusing concept to me at first because most discipline I remember receiving definitely did not make me feel loved. So how does it work?
When we discipline children we set limits on their behavior and teach them to follow rules. If adults react on impulse with anger and violence children learn those same behaviors. It is a learned and practiced habit to discipline with patience and love. Love is not an action it is a feeling that guides what we do. When it is love in our hearts we are less likely to teach in frustration or anger and instead teach with concern and show our true desire to help them. A few ways we can do this is to:
Establish loving relationships. When there is an established loving relationship there is respect. Loving your child does not mean condoning or ignoring bad behavior. Spending time with children and learning what they like and dislike will give many opportunities to share principles and values that parents expect from their children. When correcting is needed let them know or remind them what is expected so there is no misunderstanding. Set clear expectations. Teach and remind them often the behavior you expect and when such as letting you know when they are going to play with friends.
Let them know there are consequences. Set fair and reasonable consequences for misbehavior but also be aware that some situations need to have flexible consequences. Make it a teaching moment as well. Not every action will deserve a punishment but maybe reasoning and a proposed better action for next time. Children make mistakes just like adults a conversation to understand circumstances can change our perspective on the situation.
Follow through! There have been so many times that I am too tired or lack the energy to punish my kids for misbehavior. But what I am teaching them is that they can get away with disobedience because mommy doesn’t really mean it when she says there are consequences. That won’t go over well for them in the real world. They will have more respect and trust more when there is a sense of predictability in their actions.
Most older generations believe that fear is a key ingredient to appropriate conduct. If they fear the consequences, they will obey. A new way of thinking is to teach them to respect you and then they will want to obey you. If we teach and discipline with kindness, understanding, and respect then children will respond in kind.
Children want to be loved and cared for and if we take the time to give and show that love we will find that there is less time spent on discipline and more time enjoying each other as a family.
Grace was born and brought up in Bessemer, Alabama but has a great love for exploring new places. She has been married for 8 years and has 3 kids, expecting number 4 in December. Having been a student off and on for the last 10 years she is excited to say that she is finally graduating from BYU-Idaho with a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling this year. She loves to learn and share what she learns with as many people as possible. Strengthening and encouraging positive relationships with couples and families is a life goal and passion. Her biggest hobby is her family and finding new and fun ways to accomplish the above life goal in her home.