Child discipline is not a parents’ whim but, first of all, a relationship with the child without any conflict. The main goal of discipline is to teach the child how to manage his behavior. But our child discipline methods don’t always bring the expected results, no matter how well meant. So, let’s talk about the most common mistakes we make during the process of raising our kids.
To calm the kid down, you need to distract him
Goal: to help your child get over the negative emotions.
Result: by distracting your child, you only make him suppress his negative emotions; they stay deep inside and don’t find the way out. Even if your kid looks calmer on the outside, it’s most likely that these bad feelings will manifest at the first opportunity and will make you wonder why you kid throws a tantrum over some trifle.
Emotions are the energy that must be spent, but for some reason, we stay under the illusion that they will just vanish somehow.
We clearly understand that a feeling of hunger will go nowhere if we try to work instead of eating (yes, we can forget about it for a short while, but our body will take care to remind us of it again and again). We don’t think that a mess in our flat will clear itself if we just leave for a couple of hours. Finally, we don’t entertain the illusion that our urge to visit a bathroom will go away (forever and ever) if we just distract and start doing something else — just because this urge is very untimely. We just seek for a way to answer all of these signals in the most civilized way.
Emotions demand the same. They don’t appear because of bad genes or your child’s natural inclination to be a manipulator and a wrong-doer. They are just trying to let us know that something is wrong. And even if you can’t fix this something, you need to find a way to help your kid to release these emotions, experience them. Never let the bad feelings get accumulated for they are as dangerous as an unexploded bomb waiting for its time.
If your child bites you — bite him back
Goal: to show your kid that biting hurts, to teach him sympathy.
Result: this way you give your kid lots of ideas but definitely not the idea that biting is bad because it hurts. For starters, you show that biting is okay since you feel free to do that. Apart from that, you let your kid know that only the strongest wins and that you don’t feel any remorse while hurting him. That revenge is all right. That he can expect anything from you.
Why on earth do we think that mirroring our kids’ actions will teach him sympathy? Because we hope that our children will make a simple logical conclusion: I was bitten and it hurts, so when I bite someone, it hurts too. I don’t like it when it hurts, so others won’t like that either. I love my parents, so I don’t want to hurt them because pain is bad. But while convincing yourself your child will think along these lines, you miss something:
– your child doesn’t yet have this kind of logical and reasoning skills to build such a sequence of conclusions;
– there are always a lot of emotions involved: your kid may be scared or offended or all of that at once, and he loses his trust for you. Not the best conditions for logical thinking.
So if your goal is to make your child never bite again, this method will probably work. But if you want to teach your child sympathy and empathy, you should choose some other options.
You’ve got to make your kid share with others to teach him not to be greedy
Goal: to teach your kid generosity.
Result: just the opposite. As a rule, we want to share when:
– we are sure that we already have a lot of those things we share and we won’t detriment ourselves in any way.
– we really want to do something nice and we are ready to willingly give something we need to make another person feel better.
Of course, there’s also an option of practical sharing: to give something to get in good with someone. Or we share because we are afraid that someone will think of us badly. This last false generosity option is actually a frequent result of such discipline method. As for the previous option, some maturity of mind is needed here, the ability to blend emotions:I want this myself, but I want to make someone feel nice, as well as maturity of space and time perception: I know I can get it again later. So you shouldn’t expect something like this from your child (and definitely not demand that your child thinks this way while sharing his toys in a sandpit — that’s where the “generosity lessons” usually take place). Before becoming generous, your child must understand what property really is. That is, if someone asks your kid to share his toy, you have to recognize his right of saying no.
For your child not to become a crybaby you need to show him insignificance of his problems
Goal: to help your kid get over the emotional stress.
Result: similar to distracting.
The only way to cope with the negative emotions is to find a way out for them. Of course, there are lots of ways to do that: weep, yell, bite, kick a cat, discuss it, draw it, write a letter about it. But it takes time and experience to make the most productive ways work. And it would be so much better if your kid has your constant and unconditional support and understanding while he learns how to do this.
Why don’t adults cry over every scratch? Surely not because someone told them it’s some insignificant nonsense, but because they know it is, and this way of thinking is a result of some life experience. They know that pain will pass soon and that the scratch will heal quickly. They came to this knowledge through experiencing similar situations again and again combined with gradual brain development. But those kids who, based on the example of demanding adults, start forbidding themselves to have bad feelings grow into people who tend to do backbreaking jobs, be patient with disrespect or delay solving health issues. Just because it’s hard for them to understand what’s worth crying and what’s not.
To make the kid be polite, you to demand compliance with the rules of decency
Goal: to teach your child to be considerate and caring.
Result: it may not be the opposite of the goal, but it would definitely have little in common with consideration and care. It depends on how much effort we put into the job of teaching the child politeness. If your demands make your kid think that you are just not ready to accept his “bad ” side, he will hardly be able to think of it as a nice experience and a proof you care. It will just become an onerous obligation for him.
If you just hint at the right way to do this or that from time to time, without imposing it on your kid, it will most probably give quite different results. But it’s important to understand that you do this for the others’ well-being rather than for developing your child’s understanding or ethics. He will learn how to be considerate, polite, and caring by himself in a warm, accepting and well-wishing environment that gives him the feeling of security.