Parenting | Effective Discipline
Many times when people hear discipline, they think punishment. In reality, discipline should refer to teaching and learning. Making children suffer for their mistakes is not the best way to teach them. It does not help them make the right choice in the future, particularly if they are not being watched the next time.
Parents are often determined to make their children obey them in the moment. However, a more important, long-term goal of discipline is to encourage values and self-control. This is why constantly bribing children to obey is not ideal. It may get them to obey your command in the present, but does not promote internalization of good principles in the future. Children who have not internalized values may act appropriately when their parent or another adult is nearby, but will kick another child when out-of-sight.
A child’s moral beliefs are learned in their discipline encounters. These encounters teach children what behaviors are acceptable in their society and which are not. Many parents believe that compliance is always the most important response from a child. However, negotiation is often more appropriate. Compromise teaches children independence, social appropriateness, and the way their actions impact others.
Research shows that the most effective parenting style is authoritative. This type of parenting includes understanding your children’s needs, listening to them, being willing to compromise, and having high (but reasonable) expectations. Good parents talk with their children and, as is sometimes overlooked, listen.
Parents should explain their reasoning for rules to their children. For example, “you have a curfew so you are not tired and grumpy the next day,” “you cannot have that toy because we need to save money for other things,” “you cannot stay home from school because you need to learn and Mom and Dad have to go to work,” etc. “Because I said so,” is not a valid reason.
However, children who have learned to trust their parents through compromise and reasoning will be more willing to listen when their parents cannot offer an explanation due to time constraints or other various reasons. Children whose parents communicate with them are more trusting of their parents and develop better relationships. Over time, children who trust their parents typically need less discipline.