mardi 8 octobre 2013

Parental Discipline

Learning how to discipline our children is one of the most important roles of parents, but also one of the most difficult. Healthy discipline for our children makes for a comfortable family environment. Human beings need to be supported in order to feel reassured. It lays the foundation for self-control in our lives. It helps your child to grow up happy and feel good in his/her skin. Positive and effective discipline teaches and guides the child. It doesn't just mean forcing a child to obey.

The way in which discipline is taught to children depends on their age, stage of development, personality and numerous other factors, but there are basic principles to help guide parents.

The Canadian Paediatric Society strongly discourages the use of physical punishment, including spanking.

What are the objectives of discipline?

  • Discipline protects your child from danger.
  • Discipline helps your child gain control and self-control.
  • Discipline helps your child develop a sense of responsibility.
  • Discipline helps to establish values.

What makes discipline effective?

  • Respect: Children should be able to respect the authority of their parents and the rights of others. If the discipline is tough and accompanied by insults, shouting and humiliation, a child will have difficulty respecting his/her mother or father, or trusting them.
  • Consistency: Discipline that is not consistent is confusing to children, whatever their age. If parents do not show consistency in how they apply discipline, the child will have difficulty in complying. Inconsistency, such as giving in to tantrums, can, in effect, reward the child for undesirable behaviour and encourage repetition.
  • Impartiality: The child must find the discipline to be fair. The consequences of their actions must be related to their behaviour. If your child throws food on the floor, help him/her clean up the mess. Make sure everything is cleaned before he/she can do other things. Once the mess is picked up, the matter is resolved.
  • You: As a parent, you have a unique bond with your child. If you teach your child discipline that is respectful, consistent and impartial, you will have positive and lasting effects on your child.

How can parents prevent behaviour problems?

  • Give your child plenty of opportunities to take part in physical activity and exercise. Some children need to burn off some of their energy.
  • Offer choices to your children. He/she will appreciate the chance to make decisions.
  • Instead of saying "NO", make him/her do something more interesting. It's called distraction or redirection. For example, if he/she is climbing a fence, you can say, "Come swing."
  • Make sure your child has age-appropriate toys. Toys for young children should be simple. Do not give him/her too many at the same time.
  • Familiarize yourself with the normal behaviour for those in your child's age group. A toddler who accidentally spills a glass of water was not doing anything wrong. It's normal for his/her age.
  • Children less than two years old are struggling to remember and understand the rules. Keep medicines and dangerous items out of reach.
  • Prioritize your rules. Give top priority to safety, then to correcting behaviours that hurt others or damage property, and next to behaviours such as whining, tantrums and interruptions. Start by focusing on two or three rules.
  • If your child is tired and cranky, be understanding and stay calm to help resolve it. This attitude is particularly important before naps or bedtime. A short "quiet" period (with no activity) can prevent annoying or irritating behaviours.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff. Before you raise your voice, ask yourself if it's important.

If you are interested, you can also see a presentation on parental discipline on our website at the following address:

Dr Yannick Mailloux, Ph.D.
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

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