One of our missions as parents is to help our kids cope with mistakes, and most importantly, to learn from them -- That's why mistakes do exist in the first place, right? 😊 Think about your child's mistake as an opportunity to learn more about their concerns and to expand their horizons by teaching them something new. It’s easy to resort to some sort of punishment such as time-outs or taking a toy away. While some sort of punishment might be appropriate, something to think through before resorting to punishment is the way the issue is addressed and the expected outcome. Is the method we choose about us or the child? Most times as parents, what saves us time or requires less from us sounds like the better option. A question I have not really been able to answer as a parent is what time-out really does for the child. Does it change the behavior or is it the conversation following the time-out that does? Adopting unsuitable punishment methods negates the opportunity to nurture, develop and build up our kids!
Sometimes we get caught in the seriousness of our kid's misbehavior and as a result the level of punishment is not commensurate with the misbehavior because we let our emotions get in the way. From our experience, this does not fix the issue at hand, it actually aggravates it. All at the expense of our beloved kids. Here are some strategies we’ve heard and experienced to work for some parents.
Balanced and effective discipline strategies:
1- Ask questions from a place of genuine curiosity.
To understand what triggered a misbehavior, ask them and listen carefully to their answers. After all, they have a reason -- Such as grabbing our attention, boredom, not knowing right from wrong, etc. Recognizing the way they react to their emotions teaches us more about them and gives us a chance to redirect their behavior.
2- Put your emotions in check.
Sometimes it takes four words to destroy someone's self-esteem -"I'm disappointed in you." Kids actually take statements like these to heart. Personal criticism and making their problems revolve around our emotions is a selfish decision -- I realize in these situations we might not be aware of the words that come out of our mouth; however being cognizant of what triggers our emotions is a good starting point. Some studies suggest that disrespectful, selfish, or deliberately destructive kids have been criticized by their parents.
3- Show them right and wrong.
Talking to our kids and explaining what's correct and what is not might teach them about right and wrong, but is it really that effective? Is it okay when our kids are nice to others just because they're told to be nice?
It takes action from us as role models to our children.
Today, I came across a post on Instagram of a mom telling her followers 'Our kids are our mirrors', she continued, 'Earlier today, while I was preparing dinner, Kenz, as usual, stood beside me and enjoyed watching me cook. I don't know how the ladle slipped out of my hand and messed up the floor with soup and eggs...Kenz jumped right away telling me "It's okay, mom, we'll clean it up together, it's fine." I was surprised because her words are the exact words I use when she unintentionally breaks something. "It's okay, Kenz, we'll clean it up together, it's fine."
4- Give task-orientated consequences, not punishments.
Punishments might hurt our kids, as it may feel more like 'revenge'. However, consequences are more logical since they follow our kid's poor actions or decisions; they are valuable lessons for them.
Task-oriented consequences have to be related to what they did. For instance, sending our kids to their rooms if they spilled their drink (for fun) won't result in any improvement. Instead, they have to wipe up the mess they made.
Remember the consequences check-list:
Last but not least, just as our kids need to know when they make an error, they deserve to know when they do something good, as well. Praising their success and good behavior makes them feel good (Positive consequence) -- and when they feel good and confident, they behave even better. (Let's admit it, this works like magic with us, adults, too! 😊)