Practical Psychology: Parental Guidance – Effective Discipline

Does the following sound familiar: “I’m not going tell you again to stop that…please stop that now…no I’m not going to talk again now…”

We often unknowingly or unintentionally create or reinforce the undesired behaviour we see in our children.

As parents, we often train our children that they don’t have to listen the first time we speak. We nag and beg and plead instead of being in control. Train your child that an unwanted consequence will occur if the wanted behaviour is not carried out.

• Be firm. Use few words.
• Give a command once.
• After you told your child once what to do, follow through with an if…then warning. For example: “If you don’t pick your toys up now, you will not be able to play with them for the rest of the day (or weekend).”
• Follow through with an immediate negative consequence each time your child doesn’t comply with an if…then warning.
As parents, we often focus so much on the unwanted behaviour that all our children hear is: “Don’t and stop” They start tuning out as soon as they hear those words. Rather than telling your child what not to do, rather focus on the wanted behaviour and tell him/her what you would like him/her to do. For example: Instead of saying: “don’t be late” rather say: “be on time”

Another way that parents may be reinforcing unwanted behaviour is by screaming and yelling. When we shout we tell our child that we are no longer in control. It now becomes a battle of wills, inviting your child to shout louder.

Screaming usually happens when we have run out of other ways to solve the problem.

• Surprise your child by lowering your voice
• Give clear and firm commands instead of asking a favour
• Have a variety of punishment and reward options in your discipline ‘toolbox’ and be consistent in enforcing them
• Prevent a power play by giving choices. Avoid the word “No”

Give choices without compromising on what has to be done. Eg: Do you first want to pick up the toys on the bed or the floor?

Clarette Lubbe

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