By Regina G. Posadas
Getting children to obey and behave is tricky and tough. Youngsters like to experiment and test limits and they can be mischievous, impulsive, and stubborn. There are better and kinder ways to keep them in line, however, than scaring, scolding, yelling, spanking, and grounding. This is what relationship specialist Aiza Caparas-Tabayoyong of AMD Love Consultants for Families and Couples reminded moms and dads during a recent talk about discipline at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.
“Discipline is not punishment, threat, and humiliation,” she stressed. Punishment is negative; discipline is not. Reward and punishment also imply that the parent is superior and both could kindle resistance and rebellion. What Tabayoyong urged all parents to do instead is to discipline with love.
“Disciplining with love is a learning process and a means to teach, guide, and empower our children to behave constructively and appropriately. It encourages them to be responsible for themselves, be considerate of others, and function well in society. Think of discipline as a way for you to be in charge or in control, but as a learning process for your children and teens. It can guide them toward responsible independence,” she explained.
How to discipline:
- Agree on house rules then implement. Set rules on morning and bedtime routines, eating, studying, television and computer time, playing, visiting a friend or neighbor’s house, allowance and spending, family time, and doing chores. Adjust them accordingly as your child grows. Make sure everything is clear and reasonable, including the consequences of not following or misbehaving. Be consistent.
- Offer choices within limits. There are times when a child might not want to do chores or schoolwork even if he knows he has to do it. This is normal and even adults feel this way sometimes. If it’s a weekend, for instance, ask your child, “Do you want to start on your project this morning or after lunch?” Even if it’s a bit delayed, what’s important is he does his assigned tasks and doesn’t shirk his duties.
- If agreements are not met, apply natural and logical consequences with firmness and kindness. According to Tabayoyong, natural and logical consequences require children to be responsible for their own behavior. This assumes a relationship based on equality and mutual respect. If a child doesn’t join his family for lunch or decides to skip dinner, for example, the natural consequence is he’ll be hungry later and no food will be ready when he wants to eat. The logical consequence when a child keeps breaking or misplacing his toys is that he won’t have toys to play with. Don’t buy him new ones until he learns how to be more careful with his things.
- Give your child another chance. Encourage him to improve and make better decisions next time. Everyone makes mistakes so be forgiving of your little one who still has a lot of learning and developing to do. Instead of blaming and being fixated on the bad behavior, talk about how to avoid mistakes and how to bounce back. Recognize the effort your child exerts, like when he studies really hard for his tests or diligently cleans his room, as this also helps build his self-worth.
“Parents, if you want cooperation, be cooperative. If you want respect, be respectful,” said Tabayoyong.