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How Parents Should Discipline their Children Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by MKISII, Kenya Jun 8, 2005
Child & Youth Rights   Opinions
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Many parents take discipline to be punishment. All children misbehave at some time. They may start fights, refuse to cooperate with family routines and use bad language. As parents, we have to teach children appropriate behaviour. Key issues to consider are age, goals of discipline and the attitude and style of the parents.

The foundations for discipline and for helping children develop self-control are laid down in the early years. At the first year of life establishing a trusting relationship with the baby is critical and sets the climate for parent-child interactions through the years.

As toddlers begin to move around, and to test their independence, they need to be helped to understand what is safe, what they cannot do. This is because they do not yet understand the idea of consequences. With their emerging skills of talking and walking, they may appear to understand the rules. They can be reasoned with at times but are not yet ready to control their actions. When a child is overtired or overwhelmed, the resultant frustration may take the form of a tantrum. Self-control is a process which develops slowly. The goal of discipline is to help children build their own self-control not to have them merely obey adult commands.

Flexibility is the key to discipline as children grow. Although situations change, there are some basic guidelines that help parents understand how to discipline any child which will not put on his coat before leaving the house or the fifteen-year old who pleads to stay out all night.

Have the right attitude. You should realise and believe that disciplining a child is not bad, it is necessary. Discipline is necessary to keep children out of danger and help them with situations they are not ready to handle. Through discipline, a child learns how to behave, to respect the rights of others, and follow rules. A child misbehaves for a number of reasons. For instance, they may simply want to do something else, they may not fully understand what parents mean, they may want to show their independence or feel contrary. Therefore a child’s behaviour is a form of communication that needs to be interpreted.

Use language to help solve problems. Establish fair, simple rules and state them clearly. When your child acquires language, help him to use words, rather than actions, to express how they feel. When you are disciplining your child, tell him that you understand what he is feeling. In the child’s world, it is difficult to have a younger sibling messing with your things, so accompany the children the discipline with a statement that lets him or her know how annoying it can be to have someone getting in the way, but he or she is not allowed to hit. Help your child practice identity and saying what he or she feels before acting. Help older children work out a way to handle difficult situations.

You may also use negotiation as a way of discipline. This does not mean parents or children get their way. When done with sensitivity, negotiation makes everyone feel part of the solution to a problem. Even young children like to feel they have a choice rather then that they are being forced to into something. Think carefully about the choices you offer before starting the negotiations. Proceed with caution and choose your words carefully. Only give the child a choice when he or she truly has one.

Pick your battles. Some issues just are not worth the fight. Discipline does not mean that parents always win. You may feel as if you are giving in, but there are times when you should decide of what your child is carrying on about is worth the fuss. You must prioritise and decide what is important. For example, parents can be more strict about honesty than about cleaning up a room.

Time out may work. This is a time honoured technique for good reason. It teaches the child that every action there is a reaction. Time out provides two important objectives: it immediately stops unwanted behaviour and it gives the child and parent a necessary cooling-off period.

The simple act of ignoring the behaviour will make it disappear. Some children misbehaves a way of getting attention, and parents may unwillingly encourage the behaviour they are trying to stop. By repeatedly telling your child to stop playing with his or her food, you may be really calling attention on the child when he does the right thing.

Discipline is not a synonym for punishment. Discipline means showing children the alternatives and an approach to see how their reactions affect others. Discipline teaches children to share and cooperate, to learn to handle their anger and to feel successful and in control of themselves. When children are punished, they learn only what not to do. This behaviour is controlled through fear and their feelings are not respected.

To discipline your child, you negotiate, you must have the right attitude, you must be flexible, use a good language, and ignoring some small behaviours. This would help

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I am arnold ageta omayio, a Kenyan and a student in college. I joined taking it global as part of my help to the youth who are in problems especially in this era of the AIDS scourge. I live in Kenya and study at Kenya's capital city Nairobi. I think by writing articles through this organisation I can have the opportunity to reach the youths world wide.
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