am not a parent yet. My experience comes from the eight years and counting
that I have worked with children, from after school daycare to a locked
residential unit for “at-risk” youth and everything in-between. This article
comes from my personal experience working with children and my great respect
and love for them.
Disciplining your child has a negative connotation. There are books about
positive discipline and different philosophies from using “time-out” to
spanking. Whichever method is used there are some important things to know:
Every child needs to be
Every child needs limits. I
cannot emphasize this enough.
Every child needs consistent
limits and boundaries.
There is a rule when working with children called the ‘20 to 1 Rule’. That
means 20 positive interactions with a child for every 1 negative one.
Positive interactions can include compliments, physical affection, spending
quality time with him. With parents that number is even higher: some say 50
to 1 and others say even 100 to 1.
Too much of discipline is punishment and negative consequences. Another
method of discipline is reinforcing positive behaviors.
Catch them being good and make a
big deal out of it. If you are teaching table manners say, “I like how you
are using your napkin to wipe your face. Good job!” This will work much
better than yelling, “Stop wiping your mouth on your sleeve!”
When a child is chastised and put in “time-out” constantly, it can become
the only form of attention she gets, thus creating a cycle in which she will
act out just to get attention. That is why after every major consequence
like a “time-out” it is important to repair the relationship. Your child
feels like she has failed you. So talk about what happened, making sure to
let her give you her side of the story without interruption. Then correct
anything that didn’t happen or was untrue and come up with a more accurate
version. And make sure she knows you still love her.
Ask her what she was feeling and if she doesn’t know you can suggest the
feelings for her, “Were you feeling sad, mad, frustrated…?”. Validate her
feelings, then talk about positive ways she could have expressed those
feelings, “When you were mad, instead of throwing your shoe, what could you
have done?” Then make a plan for the future when she gets mad again, “Next
time you can stomp your feet and say ‘I’m mad’, then we can figure out what
to do about it.” By doing this after major conflicts you are providing a
structure in which your child’s voice is heard, and you are teaching her
about expressing her feelings and the proper ways to behave.
Here is a little parental cheat sheet:
Love your child and let him
know it often.
Have consistent well-known
rules and consequences for breaking the rules.
Always repair the
relationship and let the child know that you still love him.
Provide him with the correct
words to get his needs met in positive ways.
Validate her feelings; she
may be experiencing these feelings for the first time.
Use ‘do’ instead of
‘don’t’. ‘Use your fork to eat.’ instead of, ‘Don’t eat with your fingers.’
Rules, boundaries and limits
are positive things, and they help your child to become secure,