Over the last three months I’ve been sharing some insights from Dr. Kevin Leman’s book, Have a New Kid by Friday. In February I reviewed the three pillars of a child’s self worth: Acceptance, Belonging, and Competence. Then in March I reviewed the first of the top 3 long-term concerns of parents, Attitude.
In April I reviewed what he had to say about Character. Of course most of his book is about the third concern, Behavior. It is written for parents with children of all ages; much of the book is beyond the scope of babies and toddlers. Laying good foundations of discipline is so important, though, that I want to take some time to talk about some of his specific approaches.
Dr. Leman emphasizes the importance of looking at your long-term parenting goals when considering discipline. Here are a few of his points to consider:
- Parenting is a big job with little time in which to do it. Children grow up so fast. You cannot afford to NOT take advantage of the time you have to teach them life lessons.
- Think about the kind of person you want your child to become and keep that picture in your mind. Respectful, hard-working, thoughtful of others? Make your own list and then see what you can do today to begin to develop those traits.
- Your child needs not only your attention but also a relationship with you. Relationships take time and effort to build. Don’t be too busy for your children. Without a relationship, your rules, your words, and your actions mean nothing!
Here are his Top 10 list of what it takes to discipline kids:
- Be 100% consistent in your behavior. You are teaching new behavior and it takes consistency to retrain.
- Always follow through on what you say you will do. No matter the circumstances, never, ever back down.
- Respond, don’t react. Use actions, not words. Close your mouth, think, then respond to the problem.
- Count to 10 and ask yourself, “What would my old self do in this situation? What should the new me do? Is there a better way to respond than you have been doing in the past?”
- Never threaten your kids. Children know we seldom follow through on threats.
- Never get angry. Stay in control, your kids should not be able to control your moods.
- Don’t give any warnings. Your goal is to get your kids to listen, listen once, hear what you have to say, and act on it. Dr. Leman teaches you should never tell kids ahead of time what is going to happen if they repeat a misbehavior. (Here, I differ from Dr. Leman. I believe it is best to warn children what consequences they are choosing if they repeat a misbehavior. If they repeat, then you must deliver the consequences. This teaches children they have the ability to choose to behave well.)
- Ask yourself, “Whose problem is this?” Don’t own what isn’t your. You need to keep the ball in your child’s court. Don’t take over what she should be doing herself.
- Don’t think the misbehavior will go away. Kids won’t stop misbehaving on their own. They gain too much by it. You have to intercede and administer loving and consistent discipline.
- Keep a happy face on, even when you want to . . .do something else.
Next month I’ll cover a few of the specific problems faced in the baby and toddler years.