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Tuesday, October 22, 2019



1. Clarity - Be clear in stating rights, rules and limits.

  • Children need to know what rules are, what the discipline will be for breaking a rule and what the discipline is intended to achieve.
  • Make this rule unmistakable: use of alcohol, cigarettes or any other drug by children will not be tolerated.
  • Be direct and honest in establishing rights, rules and limits.  Never be secretive or try to manipulate. If your child is confused about a rule (“But you smoke ...”), answer questions as honestly as you can.
  • Some families write out rules about homework.  TV viewing, curfews, friends, spending money and responsibilities. 

2. Consistency - Be consistent in rules and discipline or reward, but be flexible, too, to encourage growth.

  • There are times when an exception can be made to a curfew or some other rule.
  • Whenever possible, make this exception beforehand.  This helps develop the child’s sense of responsibility.
  • Avoid adding new rules that were not discussed before the rules where broken.

3. Communication - Talk often about rights, rules and limits and the reasons for them

  • Help your child learn to talk openly and honestly about feelings and needs - including the need for help.
  • Talk about expanding rights and changing limits as your child grows.  This shows respect for children’s needs to explore , take risks and become more independent.  Be willing to discuss the fairness of any rule.  

4. Caring - Show affection and love often without being overly protective. 

  • Children who have close, affectionate ties with their parents are most likely to obey family rules:  this is more important than how strict or permissive you are.
  • Criticise the action, not the child.  Instead of  saying, “How could you be so stupid?” say, “Do you know why that was dangerous?”
  • When the rules are broken, act in a calm way and carry out the discipline your child expects.
  • Show respect for your child’s rights, such as the right to privacy.

5. Create Create a sense of social responsibility. 

  • Give your children regular duties (chores) to help them develop self-discipline and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Hold your children accountable for their actions
  • Help your children develop a sense of self-respect so that they think about how an action will make them feel about themselves.

Techniques of Discipline that work: Firm limit setting

A. Three Steps:

When limits need to be set it is time to ACT.

  1. Acknowledge your child’s feeling or want.  This lets the child know that you do understand I know you would like to watch TV. I know you would like to spend a long time eating cereal. I can tell you don’t want to leave now. I can tell you are really angry at Johnny.
  2. Communicate the limit.  State the rule or tell what needs to be done. But the TV time is over. But it’s time to go to school now. But it’s time to leave now. But Johnny is not for hitting.
  3. Target the alternative You can go turn the TV off or you can have me turn it off. You can finish the cereal in 1 minute or you can have me take it away in 1 minute. You can hold my hand and walk out with me or you can walk on your own. You can tell him that you are angry.

B. After three-step process, do not discuss:

“I can tell you’d like to discuss this some more, but I’ve already answered that question.

C. If you are not prepared to answer the question (want to talk it over with someone, want to get more information, want to think about it),  i) “I can’t answer that question now ...(because ...)”   “I’ll let you know (specific time).  ii) Nagging begins:  “If you must have an answer now, the answer will have to be no”.

D. If (s)he asks the same question again:  Calmly  - “I’ve already answered that question”.  Variations:

  •  i) “Do you remember the answer I gave you a few minutes ago when you asked that same question? (Child answers, “No, I don’t remember”).  “Go sit down in a quiet place and think and I know you’ll  remember”.
  •  ii) “I’ve answered that question once (twice) and that’s enough.”  
  • iii) If you think (s)he doesn’t understand: “I’ve already answered that question.  You must have some question about the answer.”

E. If you’re undecided and open to persuasion: “I don’t know.  Let’s sit down and discuss it.”

WHEN “SETTING THE LIMITS” DOES NOT WORK...  You have been careful several times to

  1. reflect the child’s feelings,
  2. set clear, fair limits, and
  3. give the child an alternative way to express his\her feelings.  Now the child continues to deliberately disobey. 

What to do?

  1. Look for natural causes for rebellion: fatigue, sickness, hunger, extreme stress,  abuse/neglect, etc.  Take care of physical needs and crisis before expecting cooperation.
  2. Remain in control, respecting yourself and the child: you are not a failure if your child  rebels, and your child is not bad.  All children need practice rebelling. 
  3. Set reasonable consequences for disobedience: let the child choose to obey or disobey, but set a reasonable consequence for disobedience.  Example: " If you choose to watch TV instead of going to bed, then you choose to give up TV  all day tomorrow."
  4. Never tolerate violence:  physically restrain the child who becomes violent, without  becoming aggressive yourself.  Reflect the child’s anger and loneliness; provide  compassionate control and alternatives. 
  5. If the child refuses to choose, you choose for him: the child’s refusal to choose is also a  choice.  Set the consequences.  Example:  "If you choose not to (choice A or B), then you have chosen for me to pick one that  is most convenient for me." 
  6. Enforce the consequences:  "Don’t draw you gun unless you intend to shoot."  If you crumble under your child’s anger or  tears, you have abdicated your role as a parent and lost your power.  Get tough.  Try again. 
  7. Recognise signs of depression: the chronically angry or rebellious child is in emotional trouble and may need professional help.  Share your concern with the child.  Example:  "John, I’ve noticed that you seem to be angry and unhappy most of the time.  I love you, and I’m worried about you.  We’re going to get help so we can all be happier."