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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


How to Discipline Children without Punishment - Part II

By Andrew Loh

Teaching discipline to your children is a multi-faceted activity. It is multi-dimensional as well. With the right type of child disciplining method, you are not only parenting a socially responsible child, but also but also helping him or her to succeed in life both in the classroom and out of it. You may wish to know and understand that how you behave and act, when disciplining your child, will assist you determine how he or she is going to behave in the future. When you yield to your children after they repeatedly argue and haggle with you or when they throw some temper tantrum at you, then they may learn to repeat the same behavior, just because they know that you may eventually yield yourself to them.

When you are firm and consistent in your behavior, your children will come to know that it is not useful to do what they are doing right now. They will also understand that repeating negative behavior is not good and that it is useless. Always be consistent in your disciplining methods and how you punish your children. It is always normal and usual for all children to test their own and their parents' limits. If you are inconsistent with your own limits, you may be unknowingly encouraging bad behavior in your children.

Before you learn disciplining methods, you should also know about some important things about discipline. Here are some of them:

  1. Make sure that you are staying calm and quiet. Never ever get carried even for a moment, when your children misbehave in a certain manner. Never ever, start yelling or screaming at your children. With these negative behaviors, your children come to a conclusion that it is normal to repeat the same behavior when they get angry. Regain your composure, when you feel that things are going out of control.

  2. Never ever, resort to unnecessary criticism. Make sure that your children know that it is their bad behavior that is causing your unhappiness with them.

  3. Never ever, heap too much praise at your children. Your good comments on them will become ineffective, when you praise them even for normal and mundane activities. Your praise will become ineffective in the end.

  4. Never ever, focus on negative things all the time. When you are trying to offer positive reinforcements, make sure that you avoid being overtly negative. For example, it is far better to say “I like that you did all your homework in the evening itself before watching TV” instead of “I like that, at least for once, you finally decided to do your homework without me telling you to do it”.

  5. Always avoid physical punishment. Spanking or scolding can never be effective weapons for disciplining your children. It will make your children more angry and violent.

  6. Make sure that you reward your children for their good behavior.

  7. Never ever, bribe your children for good behavior. It could be counterproductive and bad. A reward is a genuine appreciation for something that was achieved by your children. You can reward your children after they do something that is positive in nature. On the other hand, bribing is something that you give beforehand without your children doing something positive. When you bribe your child, you are trying and motivating your children to do what they want. This reinforces a negative behavior.

Natural, social, societal and logical consequences of your child's behavior will teach him or her responsibility. Your children will develop decision making skills, when you teach those good manners and better behavior. Make sure that you are focusing on positive and reinforcing behavior, when you are teaching discipline to your children. Here are some simple and practical tips for teaching discipline to your children:

Listen and act: Ask your children the exact reasons for the ensuing misbehavior. Let your children explain the reasons for their misbehavior. Lend your ears to know their problems. Mind you, your children will never think and act like you. After all, they are children, who are young and having a mind that is still immature. Children might have had a good motive to act the way in which they acted.

Teach and guide: Teach your children why misbehaving in a particular manner is bad for them. Know that your children cannot read your mind. They will never have the experience or understanding of what we think or do. You should let them know why you disapprove their bad actions.

Be a role model: Show the children why good behavior is beneficial and productive. Display and teach them the behavior they are expected to show in some critical situations. Show them through some examples. Make sure that you behave in a responsible manner. Never ever, behave in the way your children are behaving!

Show flexibility: Let the interaction between you and your children be interactive and mutual. Listen to what your children say about your methods. Never ever, be a stickler for rigid rules. Be flexible with your children. Temper and anger is common among children. Occasional outburst of anger and frustration is common for all of us. We do it often and let your children do it at times, to give a way, to let their emotions out of their body. Admit and apologize for your mistakes, if at all you commit them in front of your children.

Use private areas to discipline your child: Never ever, scold or spank your children in a public place and in front of others. With these violent actions, you may embarrass your children and make them more angry and violent. This may even cause resentment. Your children may start to misbehave more just to hide their fear and fright.

Be respectful in disciplining: Never ever, yell at your children. Move over to your children and sit down at their eye level. Talk to them in a low voice and with all calmness, so that you are showing your displeasure in private. Tell them why they are wrong with their bad behavior.

How to avoid abusing and punishing?

If you find that you are using punishment, verbal abuse and scolding to discipline your children, then you can think that something is wrong. Repeated punishment may not work to your advantage. You may need to make minor adjustments to your own behavior to make discipline work to your advantage. In many cases, punishing children may relieve parent's frustrations and disappointments than in teaching their children self control.

If you feel that you are on the negative side, you can think of the following practical solutions:

  • Take time out for yourself to let loose your anger and frustration.

  • Listen to some music to relieve yourself of frustrations.

  • Take a walk and set your mind free.

  • Calm yourself and then talk to your child.

  • Do not get angry; instead sit down with your child and talk over the problems.

Children tend to misbehave because of many causes. You may want to know what those causes are and try to find out solutions for the real problems. Bad discipline is a psychological disadvantage for your children. Empowering them to overcome this problem should be the top most priority for all parents. Careful planning and useful techniques will help you teach discipline to your children without unnecessarily punishing them.

Featured Resource

The Case against Spanking: How to Discipline Your Child without Hitting
By Irwin A and Hyman Ed.D.

This book examine child discipline, with spanking presented as an effective or ineffective method (depending on the viewpoint). A father and a family therapist for 30 years, Hyman (psychology, Temple Univ.) bases his discipline models on research and clinical observations. He offers parents a number of alternative strategies to physical punishment, including understanding child psychology, systematizing rewards and punishments, and defusing anger in both parent and child.

In contrast, Pritchett, a mother and stepmother, offers a discipline plan based on spanking as the only effective deterrent in training children to be obedient and well behaved. Her book begins with a description of spanking (two to five hard whacks on the bottom with a paddle followed by loving admonition).


Featured Resource


Child Development

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