Disciplining Kids Effectively
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Disciplining Kids Effectively

Disciplining Kids Effectively

Effective discipline begins long before you need to correct anything. It depends on the trusting relationship between the parent and child.

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The best disciplinarians are the ones most beloved by those they rebuke.

This is because effective discipline depends on the relationship between the person disciplining and the person being disciplined.

If you want your children to heed what you have to say, you have to put in the groundwork beforehand to ensure that they will listen. They must trust that what you have to say is for their benefit.

That means a strong, trusting, loving relationship has to exist before the first word of rebuke escapes your lips. You need to make your children into your disciples. It's no wonder that "discipline" is a derivative of "disciple."

IF IT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU, IT'S IMPORTANT TO ME

Love can be defined as "If it's important to you, it's important to me." You need to show this to your children -- words are not enough.

Shakespeare was being poetic when he asked the Romans and countrymen to lend their ears. No one's interested in ears -- they want your mind.

Give your children your mind: make time for them and listen to them. When your three-year-old comes home babbling about that day's kindergarten, you're tired and thinking, "This is just babble." Don't tune your child out. Strive to reach beyond yourself and listen.

If you convey that what's important to your children isn't necessarily important to you, you can be sure that the day will come when your kids will send you a message: what's important to you isn't important to them.

Once you've built the "disciple foundation," preserve it and mete out productive discipline by following these principles:

MAINTAIN YOUR DISTANCE

Always keep in mind that the punishment is for the benefit of the child, not for you. This requires a healthy dose of emotional objectivity.

My teacher, Rabbi Simcha Wasserman, of blessed memory, said that your son or daughter is not yours, but is a trust given to you by God. Raising her well is how you show that God’s trust was well-placed.

My teacher also said that when she misbehaves, she has a problem with discipline, not you. You're there to help her out. If you view her acting up as your problem, you become subjective, frightened and confused -- and lose the ability to help her improve her behavior (and likely will lose credibility with her as well).

BE SPECIFIC

When you give directives, be very clear. Telling a child, "cross the street safely" isn't enough, because "safely" can be interpreted any number of ways.

You have to be specific: "Look both ways and walk quickly across only if you see no cars in either direction."

If you want your children to heed what you have to say, you have to put in the groundwork beforehand to ensure that they will listen.

Often it is a good idea to make your child repeat back what you said. You may not have been as clear as you thought. You also avoid having your child tell you later that they did something other than what you wanted because she "didn't understand."

PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE

It used to be that children saw role models of discipline in their own homes. When several generations lived together, kids saw their parents listen to their grandparents. Today, you need to go out of your way to provide examples of adults listening and following directions.

When your parents come to your house, be sure your children see you showing honor and deference to them.

If your parents happen to be difficult, that's even better! When they mature, your kids will see the difficulties of the relationship. They will have the incredible example of you showing respect even to difficult people, driving home the importance of discipline.

In observant homes, children also see the example of their parents deferring to Jewish law.

BE FAIR

Ensure that your punishment matches their "crime" and that chastisement is meted out in an even-handed fashion. The basic function of parents is to prepare their children for life, and therefore a punishment should be, as it often is in life, a natural outgrowth of the "crime".

In addition, this helps mitigate any sense of resentment on the part of the child, as the misbehavior was the natural cause of the consequence, without undue parental "throwing their weight around."

BE FIRM

Testing the limits is a natural human tendency. Your kids want to see how much they can get away with.

Testing limits is a natural human tendency. Your kids automatically want to see how much they can get away with. Once you take a stand, you have to hold it.

This doesn't mean you should be mindlessly stubborn, but be prepared to stick to your guns. If necessary, take time to determine what an appropriate reaction or punishment is, so you can be sure you can live with what you choose.

BE CONSISTENT

Never, ever promise. Few things can wreck your credibility as quickly as an unkept promise. If you renege on a promise, there's a good chance your child will never forget it, even if it was a promise lightly made. Instead, say, "I will try" or "If I can." With experience, your child will learn that that's as good as gold.

BE FRIENDLY

If your child perceives that he's being disciplined because you're angry, rather than because he did something wrong, he may miss the point. Be calm and friendly. Don’t let an inordinate amount of time to pass before responding to negative behavior, but if you need, wait a period of time until you cool off to mete out discipline.

Published: July 1, 2000


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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Ndeanka Nsa Calev, July 1, 2014 2:20 PM

I fully concur with you

I fully concur with what the Rabbi's input about effective ways of disciplining children. Moreover, I would like to add prayers as another vvital tip. Parents ought to pray that God will make their children what would anticipate them to be once they grow

(6) TPSicotte, February 23, 2011 8:54 AM

Specific tips

Specific tips like these are always valuable for parents. I find that so many web sites on parenting or discipline are vague and general. Parents want practical specific ideas. For a few more realistic and practical tips check out http://hubpages.com/hub/Positive-Parenting-Tips-to-Improve-Your-Parenting-Skills

(5) Andrew oyedokun, October 5, 2008 12:48 PM

splendid

In our present World the drive for riches has made most parents to delegate the upbringing of their children.This article has not only informed us on discipline it has implied that it is our direct responsibility.God bless the writer

(4) ROB, April 6, 2006 12:00 AM

standing up for yourself

THEY SAY NOT TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN VIOLENCE.
I HAVE A SON WHO IS IN FIRST GRADE. A BOY POKED HIM WITH A PENCIL.
I WOULD TELL MY SON TO TELL THE TEACHER, MY WIFE WOULD SAY POKE THE KID BACK WITH A PENCIL. MY WIFE FEELS THAT HE WOULD BE MARKED AS A SISSY AND WOULD BE PICKED ON AND MARKED. I DO BELIEVE IN STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF, BUT WHEN DO YOU?

(3) Fithidalea, December 20, 2004 12:00 AM

This article really helps!

I am currently in college and I plan to have a nice little family with nice little kids in the future. I want my future children to be well-behaved and I feel that, after reading this article, I am more equipped for that challenge. Thank you!

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