When you have children ideally your goal is to provide for them, teach and train them in the proper ways to live and act and to help them to grow into productive and wise citizens, contributing toward the betterment of mankind.
In order for this to be attributable in their lives, they will need a lot of instruction, guidance, communication, experimentation, life lessons, affirmations, discipline and love.
Discipline is frequently a misunderstood word. Many people think the word "discipline" is synonymous with spanking. This opinion is far from correct. During the course of a child's development the word "discipline" refers to the means by which the child is trained and character is built. The parent is teaching acceptable behavior and self-control, and this is discipline. For example when teaching a child to use proper manners, they will become disciplined by repetition, continual enforcement, and the proper example of the use of words such as "please" and "thank you." This repeatedly reinforced pattern of behavior means that the child is being disciplined to adopt that pattern. In order for a child to become disciplined, they must have a disciplinarian; children do not discipline themselves. Dedication toward the process is key!
Shouting is very counter-productive when attempting to discipline! For your child to listen and learn from you, you must remain calm and authoritative. If you are yelling at the child they will most likely tune you out and will not show you the respect they should be showing you. It is easy to become frustrated with the child and feel like yelling. When this happens, it is best to have the child go to his or her room, sit on their bed and think about what they have done. This gives you time to compose yourself and decide the best way to handle the situation.
There are likely to be times during the course of the child's life when the discipline will also require some form of punishment. Usually this is when the child has not only neglected to do what they have been instructed but is also belligerently defiant against a particular rule or request. I find that most of the time children will respond as you want them to if they are given 2 choices. For example: "Ok, you have two choices, either do your homework right now or you will be doing dishes every night for the rest of the week." Most kids are wise enough to see that they are far better off doing their homework now than doing dishes all week and will go ahead and do it without further resistance. If they should decide to do the dishes instead, the next thing to say would be something like: "Ok, you will be doing the dishes each night this week instead of doing your homework right now. I will grant you exactly one hour to play before you do your homework but then you will do your homework or you will also be barred from watching any television until next Monday." This is the "two choices" form of discipline with the possible consequence of punishment and it almost always works.
More often than not the positive approach to discipline is the most effective of all. The positive approach to discipline is to get the child to obey your will happily! For instance: "Hey, would you kids like to play a game of Uno with me?" "Yes!" "Ok, I'll tell you what, you get your rooms all cleaned up and things put away where they belong and I will play a game of Uno with you." This makes the child anxious to do what they are asked to do and they do not even recognize that discipline is being exercised. Be sure to check that they didn't throw things in the closet or under the bed. If they did, give them five or ten minutes to correct it. If it is not corrected in the time allowed tell them they will have to wait until after dinner to play the game and the room must be cleaned properly or there will be no game at all. Another example of this form of discipline would be: "Hey who would like to help me make dinner tonight?" "I would!" "Ok, hurry and pick up that mess in the living room and put it away properly, I am just about to start dinner and you may help me with it if the living room is cleaned up in time!"
If you want to get something done and you know the child will fight against doing it, use reverse psychology to get it done. For example: "Man I wish I had someone strong enough to help me move that huge laundry basket over to the front of the washing machine!" The child will tell you he is strong enough to do it. Challenge him by saying: "Oh no way, that basket is way to big and heavy for you to move it!" The child will do whatever it takes and will get the basket to the washing machine for you! Then be sure to tell him how very amazed you are at his superior strength! It is also a good idea to share his super accomplishment with someone else when he is listening. He will soon be offering to carry anything he thinks is heavy for you.
Praise is by far THE biggest motivator with children! Telling them, for instance, that you can't think of anyone that is better at cleaning the bathtub than they are, will surely get the child to clean the tub as clean as a whistle and the child will come out smiling from ear to ear after doing it! Be sure to make the effort to go and see the job done and praise it up and down!
Making games of discipline is also very effective. For instance, one could put a paper face on the mop handle, turn on some music and let the child pretend the mop is a dance partner as they dance the floor clean. Another effective way of making a game of discipline is to time a particular project to see how quickly it can be accomplished. Say Susie is always late to school because she dawdles instead of putting herself to the task. Start timing her without her knowledge. If possible it is best to use a stopwatch when doing this (many cell phones have a stop watch on them). Then show her the results when she is done getting ready. Tell her that you will be timing her again tomorrow and say: "Let's see if you can beat your own record!" If you have more than one child and they like to compete, you can see who is finished first. This sometimes will not work if the first child is always faster than the other; the slower child will quit trying. In these cases it is best to use the "beat your own record" method.
Nip things in the bud! I have found that a simple: "Ah! We don't whine!" Or, "Ah! That word is not allowed!" Or, "Ah! There will be no arguing!" really tends to put a quick halt to undesirable behavior.
Many parents are constantly telling their children, "You are grounded!" This punishment should be used (in my opinion) only in the most extreme cases, such as if the child ditches school, curses at or defies the teacher at school, or hits a parent etc. Over use of this punishment will produce a despondent and depressed child. They will remember the reason for the punishment much better if they are seldom punished this way.
Remember to communicate with your children from the time they are very small! Be their best friend and teach them that you are always interested in whatever interests them. Communication is a key element in proper development and good moral character building of your child. Have special nights out with your children one on one. This makes them feel special and helps them to open up to you more readily when their siblings are not around.
Remember also that experimentation is a big part of the growing up process. Sometimes this means the child will act foolishly. He or She will make choices that are by no means wise. They will need reassurance of your love as well as communication as to why their choice was a poor one, including what consequences could have happened and how they could have made better choices.
A child left without discipline in his or her life is going to be less happy, less productive and is much more likely to join a gang and/or commit crimes. Being a disciplinarian takes imagination and determination. It especially takes consistency or it will become more frustrating than effective. If you are not consistent the child will never take you seriously and will most likely produce a rebellious and defiant spirit. Be consistent from the very beginning! Never waver, never back down, and remember to communicate!
If you put these disciplinary principles into effect your child will be a blessing to raise and a treasure to your heart all the days of your lives. In addition he or she will likely go on to use these same practices when raising their own children someday.