We all want our kids to behave. Whether we are at the store, at a friend’s house, or even in the comfort of our own home, we want our kids to behave.
We, as parents, and especially dads, have this idea that children should always be on their best behavior. You know who doesn’t think that way? KIDS!
Which is why you, as a parent, need to know how to discipline your child properly to ensure a positive outcome.
While discipline seems like a straightforward topic, it is actually quite nuanced. Discipline is much like walking a tightrope. If you go either direction, either too tough or too lenient, you’ll end up falling off and causing a lot more harm than good.
But don’t worry! After you read through this handy-dandy guide, you are a good behavior guru!
I’m sure you have been in, or at least seen, this situation: Out in public, lots of folks watching, kid screaming and totally not listening, throwing a fit. How did you, or the parents in the situation, react? Did they start to yell and scream as well, further escalating the situation? Or did they calmly wait out the storm all while talking to the child?
I know that it can be exceedingly difficult at the moment when your kid isn’t listening to you, especially if you have a bunch of looky-loos watching over your every move, but you have to remain calm and be patient.
After all, you are the adult in the situation, so act like it. If you let your kid get you overly upset, you’ll end up making the situation go from bad to worse real quick.
Along with being patient, however, you also need your kid to understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
You need to tell them in no uncertain terms what you expect out of them depending on where you are and what you will be doing. Once these expectations are in place, make sure that you provide plenty of reminders to your child.
You should also let your kid know how many reminders, or warnings you are going to give them too. You don’t want to just keep reminding them over and over and over and over again.
The number of reminders that you give your kids is really dependent on their age. The younger the kid, the more chances you can afford them.
No matter what type of disciplinary tact you decide to take with your kids, make sure that you are consistent.
Nothing will derail a message quicker than you or your partner waffling about and changing what you said to your kids. And don’t think that they won’t notice either! Young kids, even children who are normally well behaved, will act naughty if they feel that they can get away with it.
You want them to know and understand that what you say is what you mean and nothing is going to change that.
If you say you are going to take away a toy if they don’t clean it up, then by golly, you’d better take that toy away when they don’t clean it up! Once your kids see that you are going to stick to your guns, they’ll be more likely to listen to you the first time.
No matter what type of parenting situation you might find yourself in, whether you are married or divorced, dating or separated, you need to stick with the other parent no matter what.
Again, kids will sense any dissension between the two of you and attempt to play you against each other for their benefit. Even if you don’t completely agree with a punishment or judgment call that the other parent might have made, you need to stick with them.
Don’t Make Over The Top Threats
Whatever consequences you decide to provide your child with, always make sure that they are something that you can actually do.
You don’t want to threaten something over the top, like getting rid of all of their toys if they don’t eat their vegetables! That is a threat that you simply cannot, and should not, follow through on.
Before you think up any sort of consequences, try to start small, and always have it be something that you can actually follow through on. If your child sees that all of your threats and punishments never really materialize, what motivation do they have to actually take the time and change their behavior?
Don’t Cave To Pressure From Family
Once, when my oldest was a bit younger, we were over at my family’s house for a party, and they had some delicious cake. However, I had told him earlier on, and my wife backed me up on this, that if he acted like a wild man (as two-year-olds are wont to do) at the party, that he wouldn’t have any cake.
Well, lo and behold, he was a wild man, so I said no cake, which sent some of my relatives into a frenzy.
I understood that they wanted what was best for him as they tried to cajole me into letting him have a bit of cake. I listened as their excuses piled up like leaves in the fall, telling me that he was just so little, and how could I take away cake from him?
As hard as it was to not cave into their thoughts, I held my ground. I calmly told them that, yes, while he is little now, he won’t always be. We are all not trying to raise a kid after all, but rather the adult they are going to grow into, and I don’t want him to be an obnoxious fool who thinks he can do whatever he wants all the time.
So, needless to say, he didn’t have cake that time.
Different Rules For Different Locations
Now, even though we want our kids to be controlled, you have got to cut them some slack as well.
They need time to be kids, and that means being loud, goofy, and getting into little bits of mischief at home. Notice I said, at home? That is the best place for them to be silly and have more freedom.
You can keep as tight of a leash as you want on your kids when you are out in public or at someone’s house, but they should be given more leniency at home. Otherwise, they’ll think that you are overbearing and will stop listening to you altogether as they get older.
I can honestly count on one hand the number of times that I have actually yelled at any of my kids.
I don’t really like to do it, and it sometimes will just make a situation worse. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have its place, of course. If your kids are doing something that could be dangerous and you need to get their attention quickly, nothing will do it quite like yelling.
Another reason that I yell sparingly is that it will lose its effect if I do it all the time.
Have you have seen parents that yell and scream all the time at their kids? The kids are usually completely ignoring the loudness and just doing what they want anyway. They are completely immune to it, and it just makes the parents look like they can’t control themselves, let alone their children.
You want to know when it is ok to hit or hurt a child? Never. That’s right, never.
There is absolutely no reason for you to have to physically harm a kid to get them to listen to you. You are the adult in this situation. Act like it. Don’t let their behaviors or what they are saying get under your skin and make you do something that you are going to regret later.
Plus, kids that are physically punished are more likely to act out violently towards their peers, since they equate physicality with control and strength. Don’t put the idea in their heads because trust me, you’ll regret it.
No matter what type of punishment you dole out, or system you use to reward or punish your child’s choices, make sure that you take time to debrief with them.
If they were misbehaving and you gave them a punishment, take the time and explain why you did what you did, and how they can avoid it in the future. This will help your child to internalize the lessons that you are trying to teach them, which will help them to follow them.
Conversely, if you are rewarding your kid, you need to do the same thing.
You want to make sure that they mentally connect rewards and punishments with concrete actions so that when they are faced with two choices in the future, they’ll pick the one that got them a reward in the past, rather than a punishment.
What Good Kids!
Hopefully, these basic guidelines will be of use to you as you try to raise your littles to be the best bigs they can be! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!