There are widely varying views on “how to discipline kids”. The thing is, discipline is not a “one-size-fits-all” affair, and there are many effective ways to discipline a child. Depending on the context, the discipline issue and even the child in question, it is not uncommon to apply different strategies to deal with child discipline.
Discipline can help teach your child what is expected of them, but how it is applied can lead to a happy, confident and successful child or, on the contrary, to a troubled, anxious and unstable one. While there are many different and effective ways to discipline children, we now know that some approaches do more harm than good. Here are five discipline strategies to avoid:
1) Violence is not the right way to discipline your child
Exposure to violence has negative consequences for children. Research says that children who are victims of violence stand a higher chance of developing physical and psychological issues. They are also more likely to struggle with learning difficulties, bullying issues, aggressive and violent behavior and even substance abuse.
We now know that children exposed to violence are more likely to be bullies themselves or to accept bullying as normal behavior, and they are also more likely to struggle with self-esteem issues. Worse, the problems encountered are likely to extend well beyond the childhood years. Reacting to your child with violence also teaches them that violence is an acceptable way to react to others.
We now know that violent environments lead to fear and lie-telling behavior among children. In one study, researchers gave specific instructions to three- and four-year old kids (Don’t turn round to peek and look at the toy when I am gone) then recorded their behavior using a hidden camera. They found that children raised in punitive environments were more dishonest and used more elaborate lies to conceal their dishonesty.
2) The consequences of silent treatment as a discipline strategy can last a lifetime
Silent treatment is a terrible way to discipline your child especially because it appears rather harmless. It is a form of emotional abuse that is terrifying for a child because your child depends on you for their emotional balance. Silent treatment sends them the message that they are not emotionally safe and that they are not always worthy of your love, and this can have a disastrous impact on their self-confidence. Ignoring your kid to “teach them a lesson” does more harm than good. It can be a traumatic experience with consequences that last a lifetime.
3) Guilt tripping
Using manipulation to manage your child’s discipline issues can lead to long-term psychological effects. In one study, researchers wanted to study how parent’s psychologically controlling behavior (manipulation, using guilt, withdrawing love for misbehavior etc.) affected children’s outcomes. 184 children participated in the study when they were aged 13, then 18, then 21. The study found that guilt-tripped kids had a harder time forming and maintaining healthy relationships.
4) Yelling is not an effective way to discipline children
The occasional yell will not harm your kid, but if yelling is the only way you communicate, then there’s a problem. A group of researchers who analyzed the effects of yelling on children found that yelling actually reinforced negative behavior and that its impact was actually equivalent to that of doing nothing. In other words, yelling is equivalent to ignoring bad behavior. Other researchers have found that yelling can lead to the development of anti-social behavior, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of depression.
5) Abusive language
Using abusive language with your child is a form of emotional abuse. It lowers their self-esteem and can lead to feelings of worthlessness that could last a lifetime. We now know that the words you use to describe your child can have an impact on their behavior. The more you describe your child as lazy, the lazier they will become. The words you say matter. Those words not only shape their personality, they also shape the relationship you develop with them, well beyond the childhood years. Here is a free download of positive things every kid needs to hear.
5 effective discipline techniques that work
- Clearly differentiate between good and bad behavior
While it can be difficult to deal with your child’s opposition at age two or their tantrums at age three, much of young children’s behavior is linked to their stage of development. Understanding that your child’s behavior is normal depending on their age makes it easier to apply an appropriate discipline strategy.
2) Identify your child’s triggers
It is always easier to manage your child’s discipline if you know what triggers that behavior. Observing their behavior for a week can help you understand why they behave in a particular way. Remember that things such as hunger, fatigue, or even a lack of routine can influence behavior.
3) Develop an effective discipline toolbox
The most effective discipline strategies are those that in line with your child, your family context and your personality. Get informed about the different positive strategies that exist and then choose the strategies that are most in line with your particular situation. Identify the resources you need to establish an effective discipline strategy for your family. The mindful discipline Email course weaves research and practical advice to propose practical tools and resources you can put to use immediately. If your child’s anger is a problem, this resource has the tools you need to deal with their emotion-driven behavior more appropriately.
4) Clearly identify appropriate behavior
If you want your child to behave appropriately, they must be aware of what appropriate and inappropriate behavior means. In other words, it is easier to deal with inappropriate behavior when you are both aware of behavioral expectations and the consequences of misbehavior.
5) Learn to take a pause before you react to your child’s behavior
You are more likely to react inappropriately to your child’s behavior if you respond “in the heat of the moment”. Stepping back from the situation can help you to avoid harmful discipline strategies and to choose a more appropriate reaction to their behavior.
The thing to remember is that love and discipline go together.