One of the toughest parts of being a parent is discipline. While some parents handle discipline better than others, and some children take to it better than others, we all face challenges. If you want your children to respond well to discipline, you need to teach them to respect it.
The first thing a parent should remember is that all children are different, even if they may look alike physically. One may be an introvert who shuns crowds and parties; the other turns out to be the life and magnet of any reunion. We often make the mistake as parents to believe that since we are fair we must treat all of them the same way. Serious mistake!
Observing babies only a day old will reveal completely different behaviours at that tender age; that means that some traits in our temperament are innate, while others become acquired. The old discussion regarding the importance of nature vs. nurture is simply a waste of time. Let’s accept them the way they are and design a specific approach for each child even as they cling voraciously to the life giving nipple.
In this context of early childhood, I am convinced from experience that most grandmothers are a hindrance to the children’s proper training. They rush to the baby’s side as soon as they hear a whimper, let alone a full-blown cry. If we know for a fact that there is no immediate danger, let them use their lungs for few minutes; they need to do it periodically.
By attending to their needs without delay since early childhood, we are telling the child that they control our lives, that they have the power to summon our presence whenever they feel like it. When they become older, the feeling of control persists and converts many mothers in “slaves” to their children’s every request. It should be the other way around; obedience is a trait that is taught and learned from an early age. How many times have you observed a child’s tantrum followed by the mother giving in? Too many times to count probably.
But if we “teach” the child that he/she can use these tactics to obtain what they want, we are creating a “monster” who will make our life miserable. We must reward good behaviour, not the other way around. That is called operant conditioning and you certainly have seen it on television; experts use it on dogs because it works. And it works fine on children. They do what you ask and expect, and they get a reward. They misbehave and they lose the prize. But please don’t use money as a reward; you’ll convert them into materialistic “fiends”.
Parents: the prize need not be material
Children respond very well to hugs, words of congratulations, and, best of all, the satisfaction of knowing that they did well. It’s called self-satisfaction and it is closely linked to self-esteem. A child who has been spoiled will never experience self-satisfaction. He/she must be rewarded by external factors to be content. As parents we must educate our children to seek internal rewards such as pride in doing your best, even if you fail to reach your objectives.
In every case, we have the obligation to recognize their different needs and act accordingly. In this light parents and teachers have the same mission: to educate future winners!
Here are 3 tips to teach children to respect discipline:
1. How to explain discipline to a child
Rather than taking a “do as I say” approach, take the time to explain and show why discipline is important to a healthy life. This includes the importance of self-discipline. Your children need to learn how to do the right thing even when you’re not around to tell them what to do.
2. Teach how discipline gives control
Often children don’t respect discipline because they feel like it strips them of their power. If you take the time to show how discipline actually gives way to control and eases the chaos of life, your child will have a different perspective. You can teach them to respect discipline by understanding how it clears the chaos of the world.
3. Show how it keeps them healthy
A disciplined person will do things that keep them healthy in life such as exercising, eating better, going to bed on time, and avoiding bad habits. When your children understand that discipline helps create a happier and healthier life, they will have more respect for it in their own lives.
Now that you have these tips to teach children to respect discipline, remember that every child is different and every situation is different. You know your child better than anyone else and you are the best judge of their capabilities and maturity. Use this as your guide to help teach them respect for discipline in life.