Discipline is not my favorite part of parenting. Over the years, I have made plenty of mistakes in that department. But through those mistakes, I have learned more effective ways to manage my children.
And since I have two boys and two girls, who came boy, girl, boy, girl, I often joke that my oldest two were test children. I think they helped train me more than the other way around! The following discipline mistakes parents make are common and avoidable with a little practice. Yes, even parents need to learn.
3 Common discipline mistakes parents make
1. Losing your temper: Parents who lose their cool also lose their effectiveness. At a pool party this summer, I sat next to a woman who frequently yelled at her children from where she sat. They most likely could not hear her, and if they did they learned to tune her out. The threats would get increasingly worse, yet she was unwillingly to move, so this form of discipline was especially ineffective.
Even if you yell at your child from where they can definitely hear you, this is a big mistake. Yelling will shut some kids down, while others will simply follow in your footsteps and yell right back.
If you can't help yourself, take a deep breath and give yourself a time-out if necessary. And, if you typically yell, changing your strategy and whispering may surprise your kids' right into behaving!
2. Inappropriate, inconsistent punishment: Discipline is not intended to crush a child only redirect and teach them the right way. With this in mind, aim to stay consistent and be sure the punishment fits the crime. Grounding your child for two weeks because they fought with their sister over the television set is overkill. Taking away TV privileges may be more appropriate.
In the same way, keep the discipline consistent. Laughing away certain behavior one day and then bringing the hammer down the next for the exact same behavior is ineffective and frustrating for the child.
3. Negative lectures that go on and on: After a certain point, parents start to sound like the grown-ups in the Charlie Brown specials. Explaining and re-explaining what your child did wrong and why it is wrong and all the details surrounding their actions is a mistake. If you are doing this in order to reason with your child that is probably not working. Young children will not understand most of what you are trying to say and older kids will simply tune you out.
If you are hard to please, then your child may stop even trying. Instead of constant correction, be on the lookout for times when you can say something positive, while skipping any reference to past bad behavior. Consider what you would rather hear and try to condense the negative into shorter sound bites that are more memorable. While at the same time, taking time to notice and encourage any evidence of obedience.
These mistakes and others are not the end of the world. Take a good look at how effective you have been in the past with your methods of discipline and if "not so much" is the general consensus, consider changing it up. If you are too soft and wishy-washy, or too loud and demanding; you can try something different. Your children will learn a lot from your example if you stay teachable and practice self-control.
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