Sarah wrote a great article about the rules she and her husband agreed on about discipline even before their son was born. These rules were not for their son, but for them as parents!
There are so many things to consider concerning disciplining our children. First and foremost is the fact that each parent comes from a different experience of discipline. Add to that all that the experts say, what your friends say, and any special circumstances in your family.
Sarah and her husband took time before their son was born to discuss in detail their views on discipline. They set their goals for their son, like the values, morals, and attitudes they wanted him to have, and how they wanted him to experience life.
In order to avoid conflicts between themselves when they
needed to discipline their son, they established some ‘rules’ for themselves.
These didn’t always apply and sometimes needed to be bent a bit, but these
rules helped them effectively discipline their son.
So, what were their rules?
- Listen! Even when someone is wrong, listen to what they have to say. There’s always three sides to a story.
- Set a good example. You need to practice what you preach.
- Be clear with rules and expectations. Leave nothing for interpretation.
- Be flexible. There are some issues that don’t fit the mold. They deserve fair judgment.
- Praise good behaviors, don’t just scorn bad ones.
- Be consistent.
- Empathize. Never discredit feelings. Kids should be entitled to embrace and express their feelings. Let them know that you understand them.
- Keep a sense of humor.
- Provide insight on how they can change behaviors. Make it clear that mistakes are normal. We ALL make them. Stress the fact that trying hard not to repeat mistakes is what matters.
- Always end with “I love you.” Let it be known that it’s the behavior you don’t like, not the person. No matter how many mistakes they make, it doesn’t change the fact that they are so loved.
The rule above all others is, never let their son see that they disagree about discipline. They create a unified front so he can never play one parent against the other. If they don’t agree, they still back up the one disciplining and only discuss it in private later. Sarah says, “But as far as our son knows, there’s nothing to discuss. It’s two against one when one of us sets a rule.”
For those of you who have been reading First Steps or Next Steps, and the cover letters, much of this will look familiar. It is good, though, to hear it from another source, especially from a parent that is still in the trenches.
No matter how young or old your children are, it is always a good time to review your goals, plans, and methods to discipline your children. Be sure to take into account the effect other care givers are having on your child’s development.