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"Discipline" is guiding your child towards positive behavior. Positive guidance promotes self-control and encourages the child to think before he acts. Disciplining your child requires thought, planning and patience.

Disciplining your child is making your child learn the lesson of obedience. Before he is old enough to reason, he must be taught to obey. Only a gentle and persistent effort by the parent can inculcate the habit of obeying in the child.

Discipline helps a child to learn how to get along with family and friends. It also teaches the child to behave in an agreeable way and helps the child to control his behavior. A disciplined child is always a pleasure to be with at home or in public.   

Guidance Tips :

a. When you discipline your child, set clear and safe limits which the child must know.
b. Give a positive attitude to disciplining. Instead of saying 'No' to a child, tell the child 'What to do'.
c. Teach discipline by being a good example yourself. e.g. If you hit children when they hit others, then the child fails to understand why they cannot hit.
d. Explain the consequence of wrong behavior instead of merely reprimanding his bad behavior.
e.g. explain to the child that if he does not take care of his toys, then they may be broken or lost and he will be left without toys.
e. Avoid using harsh words to discipline your child as it will reduce the self-esteem of your child. Once a child develops a low self-esteem, it can lead to insecurity and even hostility.

Screaming and threatening does not help to discipline a child. Speaking in a firm tone, clearly stating what is to be done works for a child of any age and for many situations.

g. Prevent misbehavior by eliminating situations that cause the child to misbehave.
e.g. before going to a grocery store, see that your child is fed well.
h. Be patient with your child and listen calmly to your child's explanation of his behavior before holding him responsible for anything.
i. If there is a problem, talk about the ways to deal with it and if possible come to a conclusion that is agreeable to you and your child. This helps the child to learn to be responsible for his own behavior.


Goals of discipline helps to do the following :

a. It helps in keeping a warm relationship between the parent and child.
b. It helps the child to learn to take responsibilities of his or her behavior.
c. The goal is to teach the child how to behave, not to make the child suffer.
d. A disciplined child creates a cordial atmosphere at home, takes initiative, relates successfully to others and also solves problems.
e. It increases the child's self-esteem and allows him to feel valued.

Ways to Discipline your child :

There are 2 approaches to discipline
(i).   Positive Approach
(ii).  Negative Approach

Positive disciplinary methods

a. Validate the legitimacy of the child's desire and show that you understand him, but remind him of the consequences that may occur. e.g."If you play in the rain, you will fall sick".
b. State the "but", let the child know that others have needs too and allow him to develop the ability to put himself in other peoples shoes. e.g." You want to play with the ball, but Anil is using it right now " or "You want me to stay with you, but now I have to go to office".
c. Offer a solution. e.g. "Soon you can play with your truck" or "Just a minute then you can have it". This helps the children to learn how to satisfy themselves, but this satisfaction is delayed by a small amount of time.
d. Say something that indicates that you have confidence in your child's ability to learn. e.g. "When you grow older I know that you will ....." or "Next time you can fare better".
e. In some situations, after firmly stating what is not to be done, demonstrate how to do it in a better way.
f. For every no, offer two acceptable choices, which encourages the child's independence and helps build decision making skills, but sets the boundaries. e.g. "No! you cannot play with this toy, but you can play with the bat or ball."
g. Toddlers are difficult to distract, but asking them to do something that is similar is acceptable to them. e.g. "Sunil wants his toy, so you take this toy."
h. Avoid accusations : Shouting or accusing a baby will lower the child's self-image. Even babies like to be communicated in soft and respectful tones.
i. Children can express their feelings and wishes through anger. Adults should never fear children's anger. In fact, we must help them to think about alternatives and solutions to their problems. e.g. "You are angry because I did not give you a chocolate, but you can now choose to have a banana or an apple."

When disciplining your child, avoid using words that confuse the child and as a result the child refuses to comply. Give directions to the children in clear, simple, firm and friendly voice.

Negative disciplinary method :

a. Criticizing and discouraging a child lowers the child's self-esteem and leads to insecurity and hostility.
b. Blaming, shaming and using sarcastic humor are very harmful to a child's psyche.
c. Physical punishment or removal from a group or isolation in a corner or being locked in a bathroom have negative consequences on the child.

Repeated negative approach to discipline by parents become a habit, and urgently needs to be altered before the child experiences low self - esteem as a permanent part of their personality.

Kinds of punishment to be avoided

a. Physical : Spanking, slapping a child or hitting with a belt or hair brush.
b. Vocal : Using a loud tone with sarcasm or ridiculing the child or using cruel words.
c. Holding back rewards : e.g. "If you have not done your homework, you cannot go down to play."
d. Penalizing the child : e.g. "Because you lied, you shall not get your allowance.

Parents resort to punishment, as it is a quick and easy way of short-term discipline. Lack of patience and ignorance of other methods to discipline are also contributory factors. Parents sometimes punish the child to assert their adult power. It is also a vent to adult frustration.

Punishment always hurts the child's self-esteem or self-image, and if parents try disciplining their child through punishment, then the child's standards become rigid or self-punishing. However, affection without discipline may result in children who deny responsibility or blame others. Children who are disciplined without affection respond only to power, which means punishment and "have to be made to do so".

Children have the right to be treated with respect and understanding and to be treated like a typical child of his age and stage of development and not expected to be able to behave like an adult. He has the right to his feelings and the expression to those feelings. Likewise, parents too have certain rights and feelings. Therefore parents do not need to feel guilty and unsure of themselves, that they constantly try to appease their child to make up for those feelings. Many parents go around tight lipped, full of negative feelings about something their child has done but afraid that if they express their feelings, it will somehow be bad for the child.


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