One of the greatest challenges of parenthood is how to effectively discipline your children. Many adults now grew up in a time when the popular method of discipline was spanking or hitting of some sort. Child development research has shown that this method was not particularly effective and could often be emotionally harmful. The downside of spanking is that parents who used spanking to discipline had to continue spanking to control behavior. If this was an effective method, then logically a parent should only have to use this method once or twice to subdue undesired behavior.
If you take physical punishment away as an option, what choice is a parent left with? There are many options to discipline a child. None of the following options involve corporal punishment.
When deciding on a particular discipline technique you are comfortable with, keep in mind that every child is unique. Time out may work on your three-year-old son, but your five-year-old daughter may hardly bat an eye at the threat. Effective techniques may also change as the child matures.
One of the more accepted and popular discipline techniques today is known as “time out.” If a child is issued a “time out”, the child is sent to a quiet place where he must sit for a predetermined amount of time. It is best that the chosen area is free from distractions. The primary ideal of this method is to give the child a period to cool off or calm down. This also gives a child time to reflect on their actions and the choices that he made.
The amount of time spent in this cool down period can be calculated in a number of ways: a child’s age, the severity of the infraction or the child’s ability to calm down. For the age calculation, a two-year-old would sit for two minutes, while five minutes is issued to a five-year-old. This technique is only effective when the punishment is consistent and predictable and the child understands the offense and the punishment.
Loss of Privileges or Items of Importance
Older children seem to respond quite well to another discipline technique which involves the loss of privileges and/or favorite objects. The privilege being removed or the object being withheld must be of value to the offending child or the punishment does not make a lasting impression. Parents must also not falter on the original terms of the punishment.
Child discipline is often ineffective due to failure of commitment and lack of consistency from the parents. Parents must commit to a discipline action plan and must not waver from it. As children develop, they will naturally challenge authority and test a parent’s boundaries and rules. When a child discovers that a parent may talk a good game, but fails to follow through with punishments, the battle has already been lost.
Consistency is critical in child discipline. Consistency is very valuable to children, no matter how much they may protest and deny it. Consistency proves to a child that they are safe, valued and loved.