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Image by Irina Murza


Discipline can be tricky and challenging. One day your spanking works, the next day it doesn't anymore, and then you find yourself bribing your kids. That's because parents often misunderstood the real objective of discipline.

Discipline is not about instilling fear or gaining obedience (listening to instructions and comply with higher-order). Discipline is not about forcing kids to follow and adhere to requests, with no freedom of expression and opportunity for self-directed learning. When you do that, children's thoughts, needs and behaviour are being controlled. No child wants to listen and learn from a violent and angry person. That's why discipline should be done in a loving and respectful way. 

Discipline is all about guiding and teaching children to have self-control and to be able to regulate their emotions and behaviours independently. Do keep in mind that kindness does not mean going easy on children by giving them everything they want. It simply means reacting to your children's mistakes and behaviour with compassion, love, kindness and respect, not anger and punishment. Punishment may resolve those issues in the short term, but it brings long term negative effects on parent-child relationships. 

When parents discipline, be it on a 2, 10 or 18-year-old child, it is important to keep these four points in mind, before reacting to your children's behaviour. 

1. Guide, Not Punish


It is normal for children to make mistakes, to throw tantrums or have disruptive behaviours. After all, no one is perfect. Children are constantly learning what is right and wrong. Parents, you can guide children to do the right thing and to teach them about self-control (the ability to control one's thoughts, needs, and behaviour with the use of past experiences, reasoning skills, and moral judgment). You can label their emotions and behaviour for them so they can understand the situation better. Then guide them to think of solutions.

"It is okay to feel angry. But it's not okay if we can't control it. Throwing and hitting can be dangerous. What can we do to calm down?"


With self-control, a person can think and plan before responding to impulses. This is especially important and crucial to our society because we wouldn't want children to act out emotionally and irresponsibly whenever they feel the urge to do it (hitting, bullying, yelling). Therefore, self-control or self-regulation is vital.

2. Self-Regulation is Key 


When children act out or have temper tantrums, they are often upset and angry at something. As parents, you are responsible to guide and help them to keep their emotions in check. But in order to do that, parents first have to stay calm, take a step back and respond with kindness, not anger.

When you react to your child's mistakes through yelling and spanking, you are showing them that this is the ONLY way and the RIGHT way to cope with sadness and anger. Children will learn and they will do the same thing because that's how they were taught to deal with their emotions. How you cope with your emotions is how they will cope with theirs because that is what they see, experienced and learn. Therefore, to discipline your child, you first have to discipline yourself.

Instead of yelling and hitting, hit the brake button, stop and take a deep breath. Approach your child after you are regulated and calm. (see parents and emotions).


3. Listen and Be Supportive


When a child acts out, they are trying to tell you something. There's always a reason for every behaviour. Instead of reacting to those negative behaviour, try to figure out the reason and source of the child's problem. Be there to listen and support them (see listen openly).

"I know you are upset at something, but hitting is not going to solve the problem. How about you tell me what is going on and we can think of a way to help you feel better".


4. Do Not Ignore the Problem


Punishing behaviour is a short term resolution. You may temporarily stop the behaviour, but the source of the problem is not resolved. Dig deep into the problem, do not ignore them. If not, your child's behaviour may worsen in the future. 

Remember, the key to positive and healthy parent-child relationships are KINDNESS and LOVE. Don't react to your children's mistakes or behaviour with violence and hurtful words. Let children know that you have their back whenever they fall and they can always count on you to guide them through difficult times.


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