How to discipline

Affection, safety and emotional security need to come first for toddlers and preschoolers. As a child begins to go to school, disciplining practices become necessary.

Discipline is mostly about coaching a child to fit into social norms. The child is beginning to move out into wider social circles and his ability to explore and discover expands. At the same time his thinking capacity and emotional sensitivity deepens.

He is ready to begin his moral and social education. This requires the child to control impulses and to be considerate of others. The school-going child also likes to contribute and benefits enormously from close relationships with parents, family and friends.

Self discipline is key

A parent needs to work on a disciplining approach that is grounded in love and concern for the child's development. Affection is not enough, a parent needs to be able to be self disciplined and be discerning about his/her own morals and values before being able to discipline adequately.

A parent who simply sees all behaviour they don't like as naughty will not know how and when to discipline. A parent who disciplines only when they are angry will cause damage in that the child will feel guilty and fearful of such a parent.

A parent who understands the reason for discipline and who discovers that discipline can only be worthwhile if the child’s developmental level is considered and the approach is founded in love and wisdom.

Furthermore, a parent who doesn’t model the behaviour he or she is expecting from the child will begin to feel like a fake to the child albeit unconsciously. A child cannot be expected to do what a significant adult does not do. Most good manners and considerate behaviour are 'caught' not taught.

Disciplining during school prep years should be directed at teaching moral lessons and values. Most often it should focus on correcting destructive, negligent or inconsiderate behaviour. A child that receives discipline in these areas will benefit enormously as a teen and an adult.

A considerate, patient, moral character allows an adult to direct themselves into productive activities with ease resulting in better relationships and a happier life.

How often do you discipline your children?

5 practical steps towards discipline

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