For a lot of us parents, disciplining kids can get really stressful and in the bargain ineffective too. More often than never, disciplining kids is less about what we say to them and more about the manner in which we discipline, and this is where, as parents, most of us falter.
Let us look at some of the mistakes we make while disciplining our kids and the ways in which we can correct them:
1. Raising Our Voice
As parents, we tend to raise our voices while disciplining kids. In fact many times, in the heat of the moment or in stress, we raise our voice even more. While sometimes, we use a higher pitch to get our kids to understand our intention and correct their behaviour, regularly raising our voice will only cause our kids to miss the point. A higher pitch doesn’t make disciplining any effective, in fact, it makes our kids more irritable and stubborn and may even cause them to emulate our behaviour and raise their voice while trying to make their point to us or even as a means to get their way.
2. Rough Tone
A rough tone, while speaking with kids, doesn’t only make disciplining kids ineffective, it also serves as a catalyst to spoil the parent-child relation. A polite but stern tone makes it easier not only to discipline and put forth our point effectively but also to get our children to share their opinions or concerns with us.
3. Parental Arguments
A lot of times, there are arguments amongst parents, on either the correct way of disciplining kids or the correct time or the manner in which we should discipline kids. While these arguments are inevitable, arguing in front of the kids or allowing our ego to get the better of us, while disciplining our kids, cause the problem. So what happens here is, when we start arguing amongst ourselves, the main goal of discipline is shifted from “the interest of the child” to “which parent is right”. Kids nowadays are smarter than we think they are and use these arguments very effectively to get their way or get out of a situation, thus making the entire discipline process ineffective. Further, the relation we share amongst ourselves as parents, plays a very strong role in shaping our kids’ personalities. Hence, in case, any one of us as parents disagrees with the other parent on the disciplining manner or the reason for disciplining, once the entire discipline process is done with, the argument can be taken up separately. Further, if there is a need to correct the other parent at that very moment, it should be done in fairness and politeness and without the ego playing a larger role.
4. Undue Interference
This is usually seen in joint families, where, while parents struggle to discipline kids, grandparents, aunts, or other relatives, interfere or give in to the childrens’ tantrums, thus leaving the parents irritable and frustrated and in the bargain, nullifying the disciplining process. The same may be applicable the other way round too. As mentioned above, cases of disagreements on disciplining techniques should ideally be taken up at a later time and should definitely never be used as an ego pacifier.
5. Making Comparisons
The one way to kill childrens’ self-esteem is to compare them. When we compare our children to other children while disciplining them, the comparison has a stronger and more lasting negative impact than the positive impact, the discipline technique was meant to have. Our focus, while disciplining, should be on what our children are doing, not what the other children are doing. Drawing comparisons between kids otherwise also, is a very subtle way of telling a child that he/she is no good. If at all, we need to show our children how the other children are performing, this could be done by first praising our childrens’ efforts and thereafter, telling them that they can improve themselves by making slight changes in their efforts or behaviour, like the other children. This not only makes disciplining effective but also results in positive changes in the child’s behaviour too.
The worst we can ever do to our children is to negative label them. When we label our kids, we basically tell their brains to rewire themselves on the labels we put on our kids. For example, when we call our kids dumb, they will act and feel dumb, similarly, when we label our kids as smart, they will feel and act smart. That is basically what we have told the child’s brains to do and it accordingly sends signals to the body. As much as possible, we should make it a practice to use positive labels on our kids, at least once in the day. Negative labelling is far from disciplining our kids, in fact, it is more of killing our childrens’ personalities.
7. Digging Up the Past
While disciplining our kids, we should completely avoid bringing up past mistakes and incidents. Bringing up past mistakes tends to push children into a shell of guilt, thus nullifying the effect of discipline. As parents, even in our everyday dealings with our kids, we should refrain from digging up the past; after all, everyone has a right to start afresh without being reminded of their past.
8. Instilling Fear of a Parent/Thing
Using fear as a means to discipline, is the worst kind of disciplining technique. A lot of times as parents, we say things like “wait till dad comes home, he will deal with this.” While we may think that children will correct their mistakes out of fear of ‘their dad dealing with the situation’, what we have done here is basically instilled fear of the father in the children and destroyed the relationship between the children and their father, let alone disciplining them. Here, we have made ‘dad’ seem like a monster or someone to be afraid of, rather than someone to be looked up to with love and respect. Secondly, threatening to punish children with things that they are afraid of, like a dark room or horror characters, do more mental and emotional harm to kids, than discipline them.
9. Not Giving Children a Chance for Justification
A lot of times, as parents we begin yelling at our kids or begin pestering them, without giving them a chance to justify or clarify their side of the story. When we ask children their opinions or give them a chance to clarify, we indirectly tell children that we respect their opinions. When we do this, two things happen:
1. We make children responsible for their own behaviour, which indirectly makes them correct their mistakes or gets them to think before making a mistake.
2. We strengthen the trust bond between us and our children, which will make a great deal of a difference going forward, especially once our children hit their teens and youth.
10. Public Disciplining
While disciplining in public, we should ensure not to demean our children. If possible, disciplining in public should be avoided as it results in children experiencing embarrassment which further makes them fearful of opening up in public. It could also lead to issues like poor self-confidence or stammering. Disciplining children or bringing up mistakes and faults in front of teachers during open houses or relatives at family gatherings, can have a negative lasting impact on kids.
Disciplining becomes effective when the means or techniques of disciplining are positive.
Let us strive for disciplined children but in a positive way.
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