Whether you’re a parent or a babysitter, sometimes you need some tips and tricks when it comes to discipline. What are the most effective discipline strategies? Which are the best rules of discipline in our post-spanking era?
Our focus has to be educational, not retributive. How do we go back from “to punish” to “to teach”? In small steps, of course! When we use the word “discipline” in parenting and babysitting today we often stray from its original meaning. The word originates from the Latin “disciplina” which means teaching and derives from “discere” which means “to learn”. Yes, we should talk to our little ones about why we want them to do something – not just because we say so! Our primary goal has to be to teach kids, not to punish them.
We are all too familiar with imposing a ton of made-up consequences. For example, we don’t let our little ones watch TV if they don’t pick up and put away their toys. But what TV has to do with tidying? That’s not a natural consequence, it is just something we make up to get kids to comply. A natural consequence would be our refusal to buy more toys. Children have a strong sense of justice and fairness and if they think that our punishment is arbitrary, they will resist.
Having rules is important. Knowing that children will test and push some of them is also important. But we have to stick to the rules, and don’t let our kids break them. Once we make a rule, we just follow through. Discipline is more effective when children are sure that a specific action will lead to a specific consequence.
There is a term for that; it’s “positive discipline”. Barking “Switch off the light!” isn’t as efficient as telling “Hey, we always switch off the light when we walk out of the bathroom”. Most of the times, a friendly reminder works. And telling things in a positive way helps too. For instance, “remember to hold the glass tight” is better than “don’t drop the glass”. We always use a polite and respectful tone, and we avoid shouting.
Children learn best when discipline messages from both parents align. Similarly, the babysitter’s approach to discipline should match the parents’ methods.
Children should be praised; we have to tell them how proud we feel when they act the way they are supposed to. And we have to bear in mind that very young children may not be able to distinguish between their behavior’s being bad and their being bad. We make sure that we’ve explained to our little ones that we love them no matter what – yes, even when they aren’t the “perfect kids” we are dreaming of!
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