There’s no real manual on how to parent. We all try our best to raise our kids right, but we are, after all, just humans and thus are prone to error. Adults tends to slip into patterns, just like kids! So here are a few effective ways that parents can discipline their kids — with no bribes, spanks or empty threats required.
1. Be Clear and Specific
Parents: You should always be clear about what you expect from your children AND you need to be specific about what exactly needs to be done. If you have already fully explained and taught your child rules and boundaries and they break them, confront them in a calm and neutral tone. Remember, they are still learning and are not going to be perfect, however consistently supporting your child when they’ve met their behavior goals rather than simply punishing them if they have not is much more effective.
*Note: Please remember to make sure your rules grow WITH your children i.e. keep your rules age appropriate – you cannot expect the same things from a 2 year old as you do a 5 year old, and vice versa. If your kid is having trouble with the growing set of expectations, set smaller goals first to help ease them into their new responsibilities so you can work together towards the bigger picture.
2. Be Consistent
While we just scratched upon this above this is an absolute must! Consistency is the key to getting positive results. You have to mean what you say and say what you mean – and if you can’t do that consistently, then you shouldn’t expect your kids to behave well consistently either. Set the example and keep checking in on them. So repeat after me: No empty threats, no bribes.
3. Be Organized
You have a kid, so of course your home is going to reflect that – but it is true that children thrive in an organized, well-loved (i.e. home-y) environment. We’re not saying your abode should look like a museum, but keeping living spaces tidy will not only help teach your kids to care about and take ownership of their environment, but it will also help them mentally de-clutter and thus be more comfortable at home as well. Having a relatively structured environment at home will often lead to children building one of their own as adults, setting them up for overall success in life.
4. Be Colorful
It’s true that children (and people as a whole) respond to bright, bold colors. When the imagination is ignited through colorful imagery and bold displays, children are able to get excited about discipline. Create a colorful board or game that allows them to show positive and negative progress and above all else, make your ‘life lessons’ fun!
5. Be Loving
“Hands are for helping, not hurting.” Make sure you’re reinforcing your expectations with love. Discipline does not equate to hurting – either mentally, emotionally or physically – and if you find that you are, seek help yourself, as your kids will carry that hurt into their adult life. Of course everyone looses it and raises their voice, but you need to be the voice of both reason and authority. Your children are still learning and growing, sure parenting can be frustrating, but take a breath and remember that when you yell, insult, etc. you are teaching your children to react the same – they are sponges. Be kind, be gentle, be patient, and root all things in love.
6. Be Brave
This one is simple: “Believe in what you are doing. Reinforce with confidence. If you believe in what you are teaching, your children will as well.”