Child Discipline: Consequences and Effective Parenting
Remember how you felt when you brought your baby home from the hospital for the first time? When your child was an infant, you probably acknowledged that you were anxious and unsure of what you were doing at times—most new parents are.
In my experience, those kinds of feelings continue as we raise our kids—we just stop expressing them to others. But let's face it, none of us went to school for parenting, and often we're really hard on ourselves: we think we're alone and that we need to come up with the "perfect child discipline solution" or consequence when our child misbehaves. Here's the truth: it's not a matter of finding a perfect solution. Rather, it's a matter of finding a consequence that will mean something to your child. The good news is, it can be done.
How do you give effective consequences?
Here are four tips I used with my son and the children I worked with that I believe will help you give more effective consequences to your child.
1. Calm yourself down. Stepping away from the situation (as long as your child is at least four years of age) is the best way to calm yourself down and disengage from a developing power struggle. When you are caught up in the heat of the moment, you definitely need to take a timeout. By the way, when you do this, you don't have to let your child know what you're doing. Just send him to his room and tell him you'll be back to talk with him later. It's okay for your child to be anxious about what the consequence might be. Remember, that waiting period can be a useful period. This is also a perfect example of a time when parents need to be good actors. Try to keep your face and tone as neutral as possible when you speak to your child, even if you're steaming mad inside.
Look at it this way: if you only react in the heat of the moment, you won't be thinking clearly and chances are you won't be effective. You might be anxious or scared or confused about setting limits and ultimately end up losing control. When you do that, it becomes about you and not about your child and his behavior. Remember, you want to keep the focus on your child's behavior. So be matter of fact and neutral, even if you're not feeling that way; it's not going to teach your child anything productive at this point to know that you're anxious or upset. Instead, he needs to be focusing on his behavior and the consequences for that behavior.Continued on the next page