Do you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck after only twenty minutes of trying to get your child dressed in the morning? Don’t worry, you’re not alone and help is here. The trick to showing your child that you are the one in control is…drumroll please…. to remain calm. Children know better than anyone else when their parents are frazzled and there is nothing more empowering for a young child than seeing that she can make a grown-up cry or scream!. As hard as it can be at times, parents have to keep their emotions in check.
If your child does something that makes you want to scream, remain calm and find a more effective way to discipline your child. The only thing yelling will do is to teach your child exactly how to push your buttons. In addition, you are inadvertently teaching your child via modeling how NOT to handle stress.
Yelling, name calling, and extremely harsh consequences (ie-no television the rest of the month!) are all methods of discipline that you want to avoid. Here are some tips for disciplining in a calmer and more effective way:
1) Immediate consequences:
Consequences are most effective when the child can pair in her mind the misbehavior with the consequence (ie-can’t go to birthday party after refusing to clean up room). It is harder for children to understand and remember what they even did in the first place when their consequence happens several days after the misbehavior.
2) Follow Through On Your Words:
If you constantly threaten to take something away but rarely follow through, your child will not take you seriously. They know you likely will not act on your threats to take a privilege away (ie-Ipad), and worse yet, you will lose your power as a parent in their eyes. Don’t threaten, act. If your child misbehaves, be careful to choose a reasonable consequence before speaking because whatever you say you’ll do you must do.
To this end, Be prepared and brainstorm appropriate consequences with your co-parent in advance. Sit down and agree upon a list of reasonable consequences, such as taking away electronic minutes or earlier bedtime or miss out on a play date. By having a prepared list of the minor or major offenses and the corresponding consequences, you are improving your chances of staying calm, rather than saying something impulsively in the heat of the anger that you won’t be able to implement.
Disciplining your child may never be fun, but when done calmly and effectively, you will feel empowered as a parent that you are setting limits and that your child will learn from their mistakes.