Photo by Fiona Andersen
“My dream for my child is to grow up a brat” – says no parent ever.
Disciplining our little one is a moral conundrum that every parent struggles with. We all want our kids to be sugar and spice, and everything, but how? How do you discipline your child properly without having a mental breakdown in the process? Sometimes it takes a little creative parenting.
A wise man once told me that one of the best ways to bungle up raising kids is when heart triumphs over logic. What? Isn’t that what parenting should be? Please elaborate. Most parents are bombarded with guilt when it comes to this task. We can’t help it. We are genetically programmed to love our kids; some more than others. It kills us to reprimand, shout, or, heavens forbid, throw the mother of all tantrums out of frustration ourselves.
We rarely see the future impact of our actions because of love. When our kids are all grown-up and working, we can’t tell each and every employer to go easy on our son or daughter just because he/she’s sensitive.
So, without further ado, here are some of the effective ways to discipline your little one:
Having authority over someone is not a given. You have to earn that right and use it with the utmost care. You are the boss due to an important reason, so use it wisely. Kids will try to test this premise all the time. They will challenge the extent of our patience. If they can get away with it, it’s game over. They will not scrimp on repeats just to see how far they can go.
Be direct and be firm. Saying no with a hint of maybe is bad; saying no with a swift turnaround of a yes after a few minutes is terrible. If you tell your little one that you will not buy him a new toy, stick to it. He can cry all he wants, kick, or do a 360 degree-maneuver on a toy store’s floor, but let him know that no means no; and that’s final.
More objectivity, less subjectivity
Naturally, you’d be so worked up when the aforementioned toy store situation occurs. So much that you’re about to self combust. Like I said above, when you put too much emotion in a given situation, you lose all sense of logic.
To remain objective, you have to calm yourself down a bit. With steady nerves, you’ll avoid unnecessary reactions that will make both you and your child feel bad afterwards. If you need to move yourself away from the situation a bit, do it.
Explain, explain, and explain some more
Saying no without explanation is useless. For a person to fully understand something, he/she needs to know the rationale behind the act. This is especially true for the little ones because their brains are full of “why’s”.
Explain why you got mad. You can try the matter-of-fact version: “You can’t say bad words now because you’re still a kid. It’s not appropriate to say such things at your age.”
You can also use this kid-friendly version: “That’s a bad word. If you keep saying bad words, your mouth will be filled with worms and then the Boogeyman will come and get you.” I used the first one with my kids, and it worked.
Show, don’t tell
This is the hardest, yet the best, way to discipline our children: lead by example. In theory, this is the easiest, but when it comes to practice, well, that’s a whole new level of willpower.
You want your child not to waste food? Show her. You want your son to be a gentleman? Show him. You want your daughter to clean up her mess? Show her. You want your children to know how to treat someone well? Show them.
It’s not enough to do it once. There has to be consistency. A child will learn when there is a good pattern, not a one-off; and in order to do this, we parents need to have a good self-discipline.
Want some more ideas on how to discipline your little ones? Check out this article.