- The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience
Why is childhood discipline so important?
When our children are born into our lives, we discover an entire new dimension to love. This child has entered your life and is completely helpless. They are completely reliant on you, their parent, for everything. When your child is young you develop an unbreakable bond. It is a feeling so powerful that there is nothing you would not do to protect your child.
This powerful feeling that we have, the need to protect our children at all cost, might actually be hurting our children’s development.
As parents we have an advantage. This is the advantage of hind sight. We view our lives through the distortion of time and nostalgia. Sometimes we remember the good times, but we remember tough times in greater detail. The desire to protect our children from this is palpable. We do not want to have our children suffer through the same issues we had to face. The embarrassment, the hurt, and the heartbreak. Knowing this we often take large steps to protect them from the pains in real life.
Sometimes our best intentions may have a negative effect on our children.
Why is discipline critical to your child’s development?
Teaching a child to understand and respect rules is a critical part in a child’s development. An understanding that there are rules and if the rules are broken there is always a punishment.
A child’s mind is like a sponge, they absorb everything around them. Therefore some behaviors you might not want them to absorb, just like a sponge, they will absorb it.
Discipline is not the typical shouting and screaming, spanking or grounding one might associate with such a word. Even though these forms of punishments are not recommended, as a parent, there are times that they seem to be the only way for your child to understand that they need to change their behavior. If you feel this way, as I have, here are a few lessons I have learned over the years to avoid those types of punishments.
Draw the line
First of all, and most importantly, make the rules known. Make the lines absolutely clear on good behavior and bad. Let the punishment be known in the beginning as well. Most importantly be consistent. Your child needs to know your expectations.
Hold the line
Certainty one of the most difficult issues is being consistent in upholding your rules. It is important that stand by those rules and do not waiver. If your child sees a weakness in your resolve, rest assured, no matter how cute and lovable they are they will try to exploit your weakness.
A child needs to know the structure of their surroundings. Once the lines of behavior and punishments are clear, it will be easy for your child understand what is expected of them.
If the rules have been broken, uphold the law you have given with absolute consistency. Allowing misbehavior sometimes, without consequences, will confuse a child. Stand your ground and be the authority your child needs.
Do not be afraid to hurt your child’s feelings. These lessons will be the most important for them late in life.
Teach Discipline, then show them how to be disciplined
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.”
Discipline is more than punishment. It is the teaching and guidance of the knowledge your child will need to navigate life. Teaching your child to know right from wrong and to behave in certain ways will follow them into adulthood.
Discipline is shown by example. To show discipline to a child, you must also be disciplined.
This will require an effort on your part, possibly a change in your behavior. The first thing a child will sniff out is a hypocrite. This will absolutely cause animosity towards you from your child.
Maybe you need to eat a healthier diet as an example to your child. Perhaps you need to quit smoking or drinking around your child. Understand that you are the example your child is basing their life on and no matter what you do they are watching you.
Create goals to achieve
Fundamentally to be disciplined you need to have a goal. You need to give your child something to achieve. Then guide them in the attempt to reach this goal. Be supportive to your child, but also be firm that they work hard to achieve the goal.
Find a sport that your child enjoys and get them involved. Team sports allow your child to develop and build a social structure. Sports will also teach the skill of working with others to achieve a goal.
Martial Arts is also a great way to teach discipline. The martial arts focus not only on the body, but the mind as well. It teaches you to be focused on achieving the next goal. It may be a belt, or a tournament, regardless the idea is the same. They will also learn to protect themselves in the process.
Set educational goals in front of your child. Achieving goals in education will fundamentally build your child’s self esteem. Work hand in hand with your child to attain these goals. This may require you to learn, or even relearn certain topics. Encourage good behavior and be supportive if a goal is not met. This is the best time to teach that you do not always succeed, but when you continue to work at a problem, you will succeed.