Disciplining – without intimidation

As your kids grow, they may forget what you said .. what they never forget, is how you made them feel.

Most of us derive the definitions of discipline from our own life experiences. Our parents, either one, if not both have most dutifully relied on the traditional intimidation techniques to inculcate discipline and good behavior - and these have proven rather effective, in their own regard. What we as parents don’t realize is that a child learns what he lives. If the child is subject to screaming and spanking and a carrot-stick approach, the young mind weaves itself around this and starts adopting behavior which he knows will comfortably get him what he wants. They also subconsciously accept this behavior as correct and then immolate it in adult life.

The millennial parent understands the need for putting aside the cane and embracing their child as a young adult - who has their own decision making capabilities. At the same time, straying from what we grew up seeing, and adopting an approach different from our own parents, is easier said than done. Below, we list a few techniques which will come in handy when dealing with difficult situations.

  1. Family rules - Set a few ground rules for the family. Everyone in the family follows these. For eg - everyone finishes the greens on the dinner table, no electronic devices while you eat, a healthy family discussion before bed time, brushing teeth & flossing every night before bed. Children love imitating adults, and actions always speak louder than words!
  2. Listen - This is by far the most underrated, but the most rewarding experience a parent can gain. Listen to your child! The world is a big, colorful and interesting place and your child is gaining new experiences everyday! Listen to them talk and encourage them to speak. This will help you bond and understand your child better.
  3. Respond - Treat your child like a young adult. If you admire a quality, encourage and reward them with a kind word, a pat on the back, a kiss on the forehead. This shows the child that he can depend on you. If you disapprove of an act or a word - let them know gently why you think so and also, what you think is correct and why.
  4. "Because I said so!" - As adults, our first instinct is to say "because I said so!". This enforces the thought that the child must not think and do only as you say. Every time you come up with this response, ask yourself, why am I saying this? Then, try to explain it to the child in as simple terms as possible. It is entirely possible that your kid may not be able to grasp this explanation fully, but given the child’s inquisitiveness, they will ponder over it and eventually understand what you intended.
  5. Indicating disapproval - This can be very tricky, considering the situation you’re in. As a general practice, try to avoid nagging. If you keep repeating the same set of questions/commands to your kids - for eg: gather your toys, finish your oatmeal, finish your homework.. there is bound to come a point when they stop responding to your voice and you feel utterly helpless. First, use your eyes. Show a loving sternness, just enough to communicate the seriousness. Then, try using a firm authoritative tone and never forget to include golden words! Do not yell, shout or scream. This is detrimental to the child’s development and stresses the young mind. Gradually, your child will learn to do or not do certain things only by looking at your eyes.
  6. Make them think - Talk reason to your kids. Your daughter wants the new toy - ask her if she "needs" it or "wants" it. The first few times, she will say she "wants" and advocate her reasons. Listen and Respond! Eventually, she will understand the difference between "needing" and "wanting". This also helps them realize the importance and abundance of what they have and instills a sense of self satisfaction. That being said, it is extremely important that we remember, every child is as unique as a fingerprint. The approach that appeals to one, may not appeal to another at all! Then again, we are all steadily learning and evolving, trying to make this world a better place everyday!

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