disciplining a child

Disciplining a Child: Teaching Positive Behaviors

Disciplining a child can seem like a tricky battle, especially sense no two kids are the same, but let’s look at some things that do not change with children.

Discipline comes from Latin meaning teach. With this in mind, approach discipline as a tool toward teaching a new preferred behavior.

Behavior, even in the current state that is perhaps not preferred, is normally there to fill some basic need. Take a step back and think about what need the child is filling. Are they board? Is this helping them get attention? Is this giving them some sort of power or control? Really think about how it is meeting their basic need because if it is something like getting attention, it will be hard, but if the behavior no longer met that need, perhaps they would no longer do it (consistency is key with this). If it is another need that is being filling, what are some alternative preferred behaviors the child could use instead.

When disciplining a child, threats, anger and other emotional evoking strategies aren’t ideal because they appeal to the limbic system in the brain. It is better to keep it rational and clean cut with the child. If the child is using their cerebral cortex, they are connecting thought with action, a life-long skill. Some great strategies within this are:

  1. Start with clear, simple choices all of which are acceptable to you
  2. Have child verbally reiterate their choice back to you as a verbal contract
  3. Honest communication
  4. Cooperation through compliance
  5.  ‘Teachable Moments’ with reflection of poor choices
  6. Seeing everyone as equally valuable
  7. Clear expectations with consistent follow through
  8. Don’t: compare kids or give conditional appraisal
  9. Set a good example
  10. If the child has multiple behavior problems, start small…changing 1-2 behaviors at a time
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