Family Works [January 6, 2019]
Speaking on Discipline – Prevention
Speaking on Discipline – Prevention
Discipline. How much? How often. When? Where?
Although most of us believe all children need discipline, many parents confess uncertainty. In reaction to horror stories when children are brutally and habitually beaten in the name of discipline to almost equally horrific stories of children who receive virtually no discipline and thus run wild, parents are understandably uncertain where to draw the line. When is too much, too much? When is too little, too little?
Learning to discipline well can be one of the most challenging tasks confronting parents. Good parents don’t want to warp their children and are justifiably afraid that inappropriate discipline could leave scars that might never heal. Although never easy, consistently good discipline can be achieved. Remembering the following steps to prevent misbehavior can be very helpful.
Prevention of Misbehavior:
Step 1. Meet your Child’s Needs:
Ninety-five percent of misbehavior is preventable. To prevent misbehavior, first seek to meet your child’s needs. This demands knowing your child well. What may meet the need of one child may fail to meet the need of another child. You must know your child well enough to understand his particular needs.
What is universal to all children is that all children have an abundance of needs, some obvious, some not so obvious. Finding time to meet as many of your child’s needs as possible will prevent most problems.
Step 2. Communicate:
Catch your child being good and openly express your appreciation. Encourage her by sharing with her exactly what it is you liked about her behavior and why it is acceptable.
“I like the way you picked up your room.” “When you include your little brother in your play, it really makes him feel special.” “It’s good to know that you can say ‘no’ even when your friends are saying ‘yes’ to things that really can bring you harm.”
Step 3. Motivate:
Motivate your child to continue her positive behavior by recognizing and celebrating her good behavior.
“The way you get ready for school on time tells me that you are very good at handling responsibility. Maybe we can be more flexible about your bedtime.”
“Since you do such a good job with your family chores, I think we might celebrate tonight by going to your favorite restaurant.”
Step 4. Affirm:
Let her know that you are pleased with her behavior and how much you appreciate her pleasant behavior.
“You really make me laugh. I really like your sense of humor.” “You’re such a great student. I like your commitment to learning.” “I appreciate your honesty. Sometimes being honest is not easy.”
Again, 95 percent of misbehavior can be prevented. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking the necessary steps to prevent misbehavior can dramatically increase the pleasantness in your home. Just think, you may never face 95 percent of the misbehavior that is a daily occurrence in many families.
But, even in the best of homes, try as you may, 5 percent of the time you will face the unpleasant task of correcting misbehavers. Next week’s column will look at important steps that assist in correcting misbehavior.
Rob Coombs is a professor with a doctor of ministry degree and a doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in Family Systems.
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