There are many types of discipline strategies when it comes to dealing with children’s behavior. But which ones work? Which ones don’t. Well, you ultimately get to decide for yourself.
I’m going to give you my opinion based on my experience with my own two children. Alan will provide you his opinion on the matter. For the purpose of this episode, we are using the term discipline as it relates to modifying and teaching the behavior we want to see from our kids. As you listen to our discussion, think about the various types of discipline and how they would impact you as a child if someone was using it on you. Would it change your behavior? Would you learn a lesson?
This is really important to keep in mind because something we talk a lot about on this podcast is empathy. Putting yourself in someone else’s place and seeing things from their perspective. It’s really hard to put yourself in a child’s shoes and to think about what they are thinking, but it’s crucial. Try to be empathetic toward your child.
What type of child discipline is really going to impact them in a positive way and teach them the ways of the world? Let’s take a look at some of the various types of discipline that you as a parent have as options:
Physical Punishment – Let me just get this one out of the way quickly. There is never a reason to hit a child. Spanking, smacking, any physical touch for punishment. This was a more popular type of punishment in previous generations.
I know “Jason, when I was a kid I got spanked and it worked on me. ” No, it didn’t. You can argue this one all you want. You got upset at your parents and figured out how to not get caught the next time so your butt wouldn’t be red again. Physical punishment has been proven over and over to not only be ineffective but ultimately harmful to children.
Taking Away Privileges – This covers a pretty wide spectrum of discipline but it includes grounding, taking away their phone or electronics. Parents really seem to like to take away privileges because it’s a type of discipline that FEELS like we are making an impact. The impact you are really making is the child focusing on what you did to them instead of really thinking about what they may have done wrong and learning from it. Sure we say “you better think about what you did” but they really don’t. The child is really thinking, my dad is a jerk. He took my phone away. or the child is trying to figure out how not to get caught next time or how to be a better liar. We start this one when they are young….”go to your room”…it just sometimes feels good to say it because we don’t have anything else to say. Loss of privileges isn’t typically a good way to teach and modify behavior long term. Feel free to comment below on how taking away your child’s phone really got their grades to improve. Or that keeping your child from playing his games totally made him nicer to his sister. I’d love to hear those results 🙂
Time Out – Still today time out is thought to be an effective type of discipline, especially for younger children. This is where the child sits alone in a specific spot and is supposed to think about what they did. Time out can sometimes teach a child to calm down but the child doesn’t really learn new behavior from time out. So if you are using this method, just change it up to “hey lets take a break to calm down” and then once they are calm let them know that what they did isn’t allowed and have a talk with them.
Rewards – This type of discipline sets you up for some difficulties. If you are providing rewards to your child, they are then inclined to only then do the behavior when rewarded. You are then stuck with always needing to reward the child in order to have them do something. This creates an environment where their motivation is external. They are always thinking “what am I going to get out of it”. This is not the type of behavior we want to re-enforce. Eventually, it will just lead to entitlement.
Consequences – If you are going to use consequences, they should either be natural or logical consequences. A natural consequence happens because of the actions of the child but occur without intervention. Maybe your child refuses to wear a jacket. So as a result, they don’t wear the jacket and they get cold. They learn pretty quickly that they should have listened to you and worn the jacket. This is a natural consequence. Logical consequences happen because of the actions of the child, but the parent imposes the consequence and it’s related to what happened. “If you want to play with another toy, you will have to pick up the toy you were just playing with first.”
Logical consequences should be related, respectful, reasonable, and revealed in advance. If they are not all 4 of these, it is not considered a logical consequence. They are certainly not designed to make a child suffer. The natural and logical consequences are just a small component used in a broader type of discipline called Positive Discipline.
Positive discipline was made popular by Dr Jane Nelson, who is just awesome by the way. The foundation for this type of discipline was created by Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs. Dreikers taught that both being kind and firm with our children was important. Kindness shows respect for the child and firmness shows respect for ourselves and the needs of the situation. Parents often have difficulty with positive discipline because they think it’s too permissive or they are being too nice. But that is not what it is or about. This kind of discipline doesn’t require yelling nor require punishment. Many of the videos on Dad University employ techniques of positive discipline. It’s about mutual respect, communication, and teaching children how to think to solve problems on their own. It fosters cooperation, love, and them developing strength.
Keep this in mind….it is said that it takes us telling children something 40-200 times before they retain and remember it. Yes, I’m serious 40 – 200 TIMES. Sometimes I feel like it’s 1000 times but kids can’t keep up with everything we are telling them to do. Their brains are still developing. While it’s really hard, we do have to be patient with their learning new things. Our children are greatly affected by how we handle situations. They watch, listen, and model our behavior.