I’m certainly not an expert in parenting. Nor do I have a degree in Psychology, Childhood Development or anything of the sorts, but like many parents, I have read countless book, articles and blogs to get ideas on everything from disciplining to throwing a party for your kids. So, although not an expert, I have tried A LOT of different approaches over the years and have learned what does and doesn’t work. The biggest thing I have learned is disciplining is HARD and it is constantly changing depending on the age, situation and child. I’ve also learned that there are 3 things that help no matter what your style of discipline is. These 3 steps also help us to maintain peace in the home rather than creating those feelings of tension that often followed discipline in the past for us.
- Get down at their level. When I kneel, sit or squat down at their level (or pull them up on a counter to be at my level) having that eye to eye contact helps them not feel like I am talking down to them (literally and figuratively). At the same time it helps them see how serious I am about what I’m talking about but in a way that doesn’t make them fear me : ) With that being said, another pro is it also helps me make a point to teach them and explain why I don’t want them, or do want them, to do certain things rather than just yelling at them to cut it out “because I said so”. (although sometimes they seriously just need to knock it off because we said so, am I right?) Taking the time to get down at their level gives you those couple seconds of pause to take a breath and handle things just a bit calmer. For some of our kids we have to keep it short and sweet and for others, it’s more effective to take our time explaining. Often times we give them the consequence first and then get down on their level to have a chat following the consequence (go to your room to calm down and I will be up there in a bit) but that depends on the situation. Sometimes a conversation is needed before they even receive the consequence.
- Give them a hug after. Everyone has different approaches on discipline. Time out, writing sentences, electronics taken away, lecture, yelling, whispering….whatever your approach is, EVERYONE can give a hug after and what a difference it makes. Whether you use words to express this or not, it lets them know (or confirms) that although you may be disappointed in the decision they just made, you still love them and are here for them while they work on improving. Obviously saying this along with the hug is most effective.
- This one isn’t so much what you do when you discipline them but in between disciplining them…say sorry when you mess up. When they see that you say sorry to them after losing your temper with them, or that you apologize for being late picking them up, it helps them learn that it is ok to admit fault, learn from it and move on. Your example teaches them more than your words ever will. You might be surprised how quickly they say sorry and admit their error next time they mess up. My husband and I are both big believers on this one and it has made a HUGE difference. (we do this A LOT because we mess up often) We feel better after those conversations with our kids and I really am impressed with the number of times they have come and apologized to us for having attitude with us BEFORE we have had to talk to them about it. “Sorry mom for acting like that, I realize I was being ungrateful and rude”. Which we always follow up with “Thank you for recognizing that and apologizing.” We don’t say “That’s ok” because it’s not, but we will give them respect & gratitude for the courage and maturity they just showed by apologizing on their own. Our 6 year old & 8 year old sometimes do this on their own but we see it most from our 9 & 11 year old so consistency is definitely key, that example eventually starts to sink in and they reciprocate it.
I wish I could credit the books, blogs and articles I have read these tips from but it’s been so long since reading them I have no idea. I will say, these are things we have implemented for years and have found a lot of success with.