(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: a child throwing a tantrum in public because he can’t get what he wants.
It makes you want to hit your child in a wild attempt of calming him down, but you know you can’t.
On the other hand, letting your child roll on the floor shouting to the highest decibels would make you look like a bad parent with poor parenting skills.
It’s a damn if you do, damn if you don’t scenario. What will you do?
Such a scenario can be avoided with the right amount of discipline, or values education.
Parenting and discipline go hand in hand because both thrive on long-term, loving and gentle guidance.
What Discipline Works?
All children misbehave sometimes, so yours is not an exception. Children misbehave when they feel disconnected with you and bad about themselves.
How you acknowledge and correct that behavior is only half of the job because the other half will be how you can raise a self-disciplined child.
Studies show that the best way to discipline a child is to make him feel heard and valued, and not when they feel defensive.
This can be quite difficult to do if you are not able to regularly regulate your own emotions and if you are not committed to not using violence or shaming.
Be a “peaceful parent”if you want to raise a child who wants to behave well. Peaceful parenting and discipline works from toddlers to teens.
It uses love and connection to keep children on the right path. If you continue to become peaceful parents, kids will learn to accept guidance, be considerate and accept responsibility, too.
Follow the steps below if you want to use peaceful parenting to discipline your child:
- Set limits with empathy and reinforce expectations. Punishment, such as spanking, is not recommended because it creates a mindset in the child that “might is right.”
- Correct by reaffirming connections. To do this, you need to match your child’s eyes by stooping down to their level. You can also pick him up or put your hand on his shoulder.
- Acknowledge your child’s perspective to make him feel understood but don’t forget to enforce your rules and limits.
- If there is a possibility of physical danger (i.e., your child wants to hit someone), step in immediately and connect using empathy.
- If your child doesn’t accept your guidance and discipline, then that means your relationship is not strong enough. At this point, you have to stop and think of ways to strengthen your relationship.
- Timeouts are punishments by banishment and as much as they are infinitely better than hitting your child, they are not advisable nonetheless.
- Timeouts leave kids alone to manage their emotions. Young children are still lacking in emotional intelligence so timeouts may only create more misbehavior.
- If you’re going to use consequences to teach your child to behave, then make sure that you have no part in engineering them.
Consequences should take place naturally (i.e., the child slips because he didn’t listen when you told him to be careful when running). Consequences engineered by parents are simply punishments and, again, they will not encourage behavior in the long run.
- Find a way to say YES even while you set your limit. Confusing, right? Kids will do almost anything if you make a request with a loving heart.
Most importantly, how you treat your child will be the same way he treats himself. This is called mirroring.
So if you’re hard on your hard, then he will be hard on himself, too. On the other hand, if you are loving but firm in setting limits, then your child will also develop the ability to set firm and loving limits on his own.
What’s Wrong with Strict and Permissive Parenting?
Simply put, strict parenting raises angry kids while permissive parenting raises unhappy ones. Both strict and permissive parenting cause a child to resist guidance and is unable to achieve self-discipline.
The sad thing is, research shows that most parents believe strict parenting produces better behaved kids.
The truth is, strict parenting produces kids with low self esteem and they behave worse so they end up getting punished more.
Strict parenting deprives your child with the opportunity to internalize responsibility and self-discipline. Your harsh limits may temporarily control behavior but they trigger resistance to self-regulate.
Strict parenting also teaches your child to be a bully because you are basically telling him that “might is right.” Your child will mirror such parenting style by using fear to get what he wants from others.
Most importantly, strict parenting undermines the parent-child relationship. Kids become difficult to manage so ultimately, parenting fails.
On the other hand, permissive parenting hates the idea of making a child upset. Instead of sticking to the limits you set, you bend them to please your child. But as mentioned earlier, setting limits is a very important part of good parenting.
Bear in mind that as your child grows, his wants and needs become different too. An infant has the same wants and needs. A toddler wants things that are opposite to his long-term needs.
So if you don’t set limits, your child will not develop the ability to manage frustration and himself. Hence, a spoiled child.
Permissive parenting grants a child’s desires that could have harmful consequences. It also stops a child from learning happiness that is not derived from wish fulfillment.
If you stick with permissive parenting, it will have stun your child’s otherwise healthy emotional development.
Good Parenting Checklist
Here’s a good parenting checklist and self-assessment guide to help you discipline your child more effectively.
If you answer yes to all these questions, then it’s important that you take a break and work to get back on track.
The first step is to pick two of your discipline issues and focus on them first.
Don’t overwhelm your child with 20 or so rules, just stick with a few important ones so he knows what is expected of him.
In addition, offer choices instead of pushing just what you want onto your child. Make him feel that he is in control of his choices.
And of course, you have to give your child the time to absorb your teachings.
Make sure to watch carefully and to immediately step in to guide him back to the right path should he start to deviate again.
Remember, a happy child makes a happy parent.