Guest Author - Paula Petrie
“Then I came to realize that men build themselves personalities as they build houses - to protect themselves from the world. But once they have built a house, they are forced to live in it. They become its prisoners” - Wilson 1956
We want our children to pursue their dreams, to rise from adversity, to take on challenges and grow through them. Realistically, for our children to have the power to do these things and to lead happy, productive, and fulfilling lives, they need the insight of self-discipline. The key to helping children achieve, and understand self-control and self-governance is discipline. And discipline requires a strong commitment, that initially begins with the parents. Discipline at home provides the catalyst to help children grow up to be well-adjusted.
Self-discipline is the learned ability to exercise control over our emotions and behaviors. It is emotional intelligence and motivation triggered by a desire to improve. Self-discipline will allow us to cope with disappointment. Lord Alfred Tennyson stated, "Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control. These three alone lead to sovereign power”
Discipline should be used to teach or guide children, not to enforce behavior. Discipline is also an important safety check to protect children from danger. By learning through an understanding of the consequences of actions (good and bad) children develop a sense of responsibility and eventually parental discipline should help to instill values. I have heard it termed this way, helping a child learn self-discipline is "like balancing the bicycle while a child learns to ride."
Experts agree children should be disciplined according to their age, stage of development, personality and many other factors. But, if learning from discipline is to be effective there must be mutual respect between children and parents. For this reason, understood consequences must be in place and consistent. Children also need to see discipline as being fair. The consequences of their actions should be related to their behavior. When the punishment fits the crime, we are helping to instill positive growth toward self-discipline. When parents are inconsistent or harsh with discipline, children find it more difficult to respect the rules.
The expert advice to remember is:
Children need to run off some of their energy.
Kids need the chance to make decisions through choices.
For young children often the most effective approach is distraction or redirection.
It is important to be familiar with behavior that is appropriate for your child’s age. A toddler accidentally spilling a drink is not misbehaving. This is normal.
It is important to prioritize rules. Give top priority to safety, then to correcting behavior that harms people and property, then behavior such as whining, temper tantrums and interrupting.
Always try to give consideration and respect to their feelings (and subsequent behavior) when they are sad, angry, or tired. Comfort your children and work to earn their trust. Before you become frustrated and raise your voice, ask yourself, “Is this important now?” We can get better results when kids are not too emotional to cope.
Laugh and have fun. Praise good behavior. These things will help children wish to earn your respect.