One of the most important questions young parents ask is, “How do I discipline my children with love but make sure I am not hurting them?” If you are asking a similar question, keep reading.
Disciplining your children in a positive way is one of the best things that you can do for them. Positive discipline is in contrast to negative discipline. Disciplining your kids in a negative way includes spanking them in your anger, giving them consequences that are unrelated to their misdeeds, and treating their behavior unnecessarily harsh, as if they have committed a crime. Instead, consider treating your kids the way that you would want to be treated – with love, respect, and honor.
Yes, we can honor our kids in the way we treat them. We honor them by honoring their God-given dignity. No shaming. No putting down. We respect our kids by giving them options, helping them to choose their consequences, teaching them to grow and mature. We love our kids in lots of ways, primarily deciding to keep the big picture of their growth and development as human beings in mind.
Our kids will see our love, sense our love, and feel our love when we touch them, laugh with them, spend time with them, ask them questions, and make ourselves available. And to love them is to discipline them in a positive way. Consider these three ways to turn common forms of negative discipline into positive discipline.
Discipline with a loving hand. Spanking is a hot word, but the practice of a physical consequence is a proven benefit. Don’t use a rod, a spoon, a belt, or any other weapon. Don’t wash mouths out with soap either. A firm pat on the bottom will get their attention. Let it sting a little to show that what they did was wrong and is unacceptable. Stay under control. If you are angry, back off. Never touch a child in anger. Put yourself in a time out.
Kids need consequences and they need boundaries. Isn’t that how we learn? We cross a boundary and we get burned. We do a bad thing, and something else bad results. Good parents teach their children how to navigate through life and how to learn from their mistakes. When disciplining your child, give them options to choose from. Make sure their consequences match their wrongdoing. For example, if a child refuses to turn the television off, tell her that she will not be able to watch television for a period of time. Give her options such as: no TV for three days, or TV for only 30 minutes per day for the next week, or missing her favorite show for a period of time. This allows the child to own his mistake and to learn from his mistake.
Another way to positively discipline your kids is to keep their issue in perspective. Don’t blow it out of proportion, making it out to be bigger than it is. Several issues play into your hand: the event itself, the age of the child, and the degree of difficulty of the potential consequence. If a child has written on the wall, or spilled milk, or accidentally thrown something away, teach them the right thing, the better way, with tenderness. Conversely, if they touch the electrical socket, make a big deal out of it, because that is a matter of health and safety. Keep the deed in perspective. Don’t yell and jump up and down. Don’t use words that only escalate the situation. Don’t treat your kid as if they need to go to jail. Rather, realize that a toddler is going to make bad choices and a teenager bad decisions. Go with it.
Common sense + love + patience + wisdom = positive discipline. Ask friends and read up on positive ways to show your kids that you love them by disciplining them.