The biggest mistake that parents make when disciplining their children is not to discipline them at all. Children need boundaries and limits in order to feel secure and to know how to act at any given time. If you do not discipline your children they act inappropriately and others such as school teachers discipline them – the child can become very confused. It has been established that children need consistant, fair discipline to become well rounded people in their own right. There are however some basic mistakes that many parents make when they discipline their children and here are some of them and their solutions.
1. Never discipline your child when you are angry. If you are annoyed with the child the discipline you give them will probably be unfair at the least and abusive at the worst. People tend to lose perspective if they are enraged and bad decisions can be made. Children have a way of pressing all your buttons and you need to recognize this and step away until you are calm, before you deliver a punishment. By all means tell the child that they will be punished but you do not have to go ahead with the disciplinary action until you are ready. The only exception to this would be if you need to put the child in time out immediately. This takes care of you moving away from the problem anyway. Never lose your cool and yell at the child. It negates any disciplinary action as you bring fear into the equation. Although you are disciplining your child you do never want them to be fearful of you. Not at all. Any time. So take a breath, walk away, think about what happened and come back when you are feeling more in control.
2. Do not fall into the parental trap of disciplining all of your children because you do not know who to discipline or did not see who was the perpetrator. That is patently unfair to the innocent child who did nothing and sends a message to the ‘bad’ child that they can manipulate both you and the situation. It also shows them that even if they lose by being punished, so does their sibling. If this happens a lot you will have to find a way to observe the children more closely or keep one child with you if you must be out of the room.
3. Make sure the punishment fits the crime. Men especially are the worst perpetrators of this mistake. If your child scribbles on the wall by all means make them clean it off but don’t make them clean every wall and floor of the house with a toothbrush. Or if they tell a lie then make them write out why they must not lie 20 times but do not make them write it 1000 times.
4. Do not punish a child for what is obviously not within their control. For example, a child that breaks a plate while washing the dishes or falls onto a table and breaks a vase. These are obviously accidents and nobody should be punished for that. Another thing a child should never be punished for is if they cannot do something that you feel they need to do such as play a certain song on the piano or kick aa goal or even knowing how to do a math problem. Not everyone can do things as needed and nobody is perfect all the time. Your children need to know it is ok to make a mistake. Indeed, I used to tell my children that it was fine to make a mistake as it was a learning experience. All I ever required from my child is that she tried her best. If that wasn’t good enough to make the team or play in the concert then so be it. I loved her even more for trying. Everyone fails now and then. Do not compound the child’s feeling bad about the failure with a punishment as well.
5. Never allow someone not the child’s parent to discipline your child. This happens all the time with parents entering new relationships but it is wrong and harmful to the child to be disciplined by someone that they rightly regard as a stranger. It makes the child feel that you are not on their side and although you feel you know this person – the child does not. And they should not be expected to happily receive punishments from them. You should never abdicate your responsibilities to another. These people do not know your child, any problems they may have, their fears or their behaviours and they do not love the child as a parent would, so never entrust your child to another person just because they happen to live in your house.
Parents make mistakes every day. We do the best we can at the time and when we know better, we do better. These are some fundamental mistakes that need not be made and should not be made, especially under the guise of discipline. Be fair and consistant and put yourself in the child’s shoes and you will both be fine. Discipline is needed for your child to become a well adjusted and adept person who can function well in society and life. Temper your discipline with love and you will impart wisdom to the child without the trauma, and discipline without fear.