“I told her she was grounded for 6 months,” said the angry determined mom I sat across from in my office.
“Do you think you can keep those consequence in place for 6 months?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But it sure made me feel better when I said it,” she stated.
Disciplining children is one of the hardest things a parent has to perform. If you do it wrong, it could cause lasting problems in your relationship and also set the tone for your child to behave poorly in the future. I don’t know many parents who don’t struggle with it in some form or fashion. Many parents think that discipline should include some sort of negative memorable experience - punishment.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that a negative memory can change behavior and bring long term results. I just want to make sure when I’m giving out punishment that the change is going to occur in the area or situation that I am targeting. It is also my understanding that random negative consequences can cause trust to be damaged in the relationship. I may be teaching my child that I’m not the person to confide in or rely on because I make rash decisions and I’m guided by pure emotion.
To discipline means to teach. So I encourage parents to keep that in mind when they are developing consequences for negative behavior. Using these four tips can help turn your punishment to discipline:
Be sure the consequences fit the crime. If my child doesn’t put away his bike after playing and I take way outside time for the rest of the week, have I really addressed putting away the bike? May instead I would not allow him to ride his bike when he goes outside to play for the week. Now he is outside with no bike when everyone else is riding and may remember to put away his bike next time.
Duration of consequences must be realistic. If the mom I mentioned initially knows she won’t be able to sustain 6 months of her child being in the house. She might want to reduce the time of the grounding. Maybe a day of every year of your age would be more feasible.
Natural consequences often work. If I keep encouraging my child to study and they have consistently been ignoring me and avoiding the task, sometimes the bad grade itself will become a motivator. I’m not promoting letting your child fail an entire grade. However, I am promoting letting them take responsibility for their actions.
Wait 24 hours and then decide. Sometimes as a parent you can become so angry about a situation that has occurred with your child that you can’t even see straight. This is not the time to deliver the consequence. Wait 24 hours then decide on what will happen next. The 24 hours gives you time to calm down. You may also use this time to consult with a family member, friend, or professional.
Parenting is not easy. Every strategy does not fit every child. You know your child the best. The use of love and consistency when developing discipline strategies will guide you to do your best job.
If you are struggling in this area of parenting and would like to consult with a therapist/parent coach about your concerns please feel free to call Path To Hope Counseling. Call today to make your appointment, 984-500-2021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.