When it comes to raising kids with character, one of the most powerful tools that we have in our parenting toolbox is discipline.
We’ve talked about how to effectively discipline an ungrateful child and how to discipline a toddler. Now, let’s talk about discipline strategies for children and parents. Honestly, having self-discipline is huge for a work at home or stay at home mom. Really for anyone in the workforce.
But, let’s talk about how that can also apply to parenting.
How to use self-discipline at home
My youngest child is proving to be the most challenging of my three children. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s happening. Daily, it seems, a new issue comes up and I find myself in a power struggle with my 3 year old. She’s strong willed and spirited.
I’ve been told recently by my mom that I was the same way.
Fun times are ahead, it would seem.
So that’s why I want to start incorporating positive discipline techniques.
Discipline is a result of consciously applying choices – controlling thoughts, actions, and reactions in a specific way. Ideally, it is learned through training, correction, and practice.
When it comes to children, some parents concentrate on training while others concentrate on correction. Ultimately, your goal as a parent is to teach your child self-discipline, to make good choices consistently, and to do what’s right without someone telling them what to do.
Here are a few strategies to help you develop and strengthen your own discipline skills so you can teach your child self-discipline with real life examples.
How do you teach your child self-discipline?
1. Develop and strengthen your self-discipline.
You may have heard parents referred to as the captains of the ship. There is a lot of truth in this. Parents need to set the course and direct the crew. In order to do that you need to be in control, self-disciplined, and consistent, among other things.
Begin by doing a self-inventory.
Identify and write down your strengths and areas to work on. Write down the details about specific things you need to work on.
Consider these questions.
Do you resist distractions, cope with and control your own emotions, keep impulses in check, delay immediate gratification for a better future reward, listen and speak effectively, pre-plan, accept responsibility, know what motivates you, procrastinate, or make excuses?
Are you consistent, trustworthy, easily manipulated, a “team player”, positive, patient, confident, accepting of yourself and others, overly critical or judgmental?
Helping your child learn self-discipline starts with you. Children look to their parents as examples of how they should think and act, therefore you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
2. Get the details down.
Decide what to work on first. For each item, write down your goal and the outcome desired, as well as the motivating factor – why making this change is important. List the ways you will be affected as well as how those around you will be affected.
3. Work on one thing at a time.
Focus on the most important parenting characteristics to your children – trust, honesty, fairness, consistency, reliability, and a positive attitude. These need to be among your strong points before you start teaching the kids. Of these, begin with something that just needs a little work each day.
Your success will help to motivate you as you begin working on the next trait. Then, work on something that is more challenging for you. Alternate the easy with the more challenging areas.
4. Plan your strategy.
In your plan, include a list of tasks or activities that will strengthen the desired behavior or attitude. Use a personal calendar to schedule these activities into your daily routine, including a specific time.
The more opportunities you give yourself to practice, the quicker the behavior or attitude will become a habit.
Build in options, limits, and rewards into your plan. Even the best-laid plans fall flat from time to time. Just as you will give your children choices, give yourself options. For example, if it’s your turn to wash the dishes, you can do it right after the meal or in one hour when your favorite show is over.
Set limits such as, I will not allow myself to leave the dishes until morning. Each time you meet a goal, reward yourself. You can do this on a small scale daily as well as on a larger scale once a week, but only if you meet your goal five out of seven days.
Adjust these rewards, especially the weekly one, so that you are challenged slightly.
5. At the end of the day, make some quiet time to write about your successes.
If you ran into a problem, be sure to write about how you solved it and how you can avoid running into that problem in the future. Also, jot down any ideas that will encourage or aid in your future success.
6. Children’s negative or disappointing experiences inhibit their positive social and emotional growth.
When children feel that an adult is unreliable or doesn’t follow through, it greatly affects their attitudes and expectations well into their adult years. This is why you need to have a solid foundation and good practices in place before you begin training and correcting your children.
7. Assess and make a written plan.
Just as you needed a plan to help you stay on track, your child needs one too. Older children have the skills needed to do this for themselves with a bit of guidance from you. Younger children need you to make the plan for them, while you can ask them questions to get input when possible.
Make a written plan for your children.
In fact, you need two – one for your eyes only where you will make notes and one that is age appropriate for your children.
8. Set routines and limits.
Stick to them. Just as you have a daily routine, where you work in your goals and practice time, your child needs one too. It helps them to know what to expect and what they should do. Routines and familiar activities are often comforting as you both learn new skills.
Make your child a routine chart, which is similar to a to-do list or chore chart. Use pictures for non-readers and a more complex chart for older children, using words and including how-to instructions when needed.
Place the routine chart in the child’s room or on in a special place in a community room, such as the kitchen. Routines can be adjusted slightly on an as-needed basis. It’s important set limits so your children don’t procrastinate to get out of doing something.
An example is putting off homework until five minutes before bedtime.
9. Make it a team effort.
In the earliest years, your children may need extra help and instructions. As your child works on a goal, you can work on it too. For example, if you want your children to pick up their toys before bedtime, you can clean up your personal space during that same time frame.
This encourages your children and allows them to associate their task with the “adult” version.
10. Reinforce and correct with positive statements.
During the day, catch your children “doing a good job.” Give them a lot of positive attention and praise. Let them hear you “bragging” on their efforts, choices, and actions.
For example, tell them directly, “I’m so proud of you! You picked up your toys without me even asking. Way to go!” You may also tell someone else, “You should have seen how well Joey cleaned his room! It was a tough job but he chose to stick with it. I’m so proud of him.”
When your children run into a problem and their action or solution wasn’t the best, praise the effort and offer at least two choices or solutions that are more acceptable. End the day by recapping with positive talk. Praise efforts, choices, actions, and new things learned.
Making changes can be difficult. However, discipline and self-discipline strategies for parents and children can help you develop the skills you need to need to make and maintain positive changes in your life.