Discipline is Good Parenting
Discipline can be a major problem for parents. Family values and expectations vary widely from family to family. Because each family, situation, and child is different, there isn't one "right" way to teach children responsibility and self control.
Conflicts over "crime and punishment" often create major problems between parents and children. While it's important for families to have established rules and expectations that are understood by everyone, it's also important to have specific consequences for breaking the rules. The difficulty is in deciding which "punishment" fits which "crime".
Parents can make their job easier if they involve children in the rule making process, and in deciding what the consequences for breaking rules should be. Older children and teens can help suggest rules and consequences they feel are reasonable and fair. Children are more likely to follow rules they have had a part in creating.
Natural and logical consequences are more effective than punishments for helping children learn to be responsible for their own behavior. Natural consequences are the direct result of a choice, such as not getting up in time for breakfast results in being hungry. Logical consequences are logical results of behavior, such as having to pay for a window broken in anger. Natural and logical consequences allow children to experience the impersonal results of their choices and make children responsible for their own choices.
Punishments are not directly related to the "crime" or misbehavior, for example, being grounded for getting up late or for breaking something. Punishments make the parents responsible for enforcing their children's behavior.
The line between logical consequences and punishment is thin at times, and sometimes it's difficult to find a logical consequence for a behavior. It's important that both children and parents see a relationship between the behavior and the consequence. For example, lying to parents might result in losing their trust and losing a privilege that requires trust.
Often it is helpful for both parents and children to have a written list of rules and consequences. Older children and teens can work with parents to help develop "contracts" that list specifically what both parents and children agree to do.
For more information on discipline, or for other questions or comments, call the Trinity Adolescent Program at (515) 574-6596.
This article was written by Pam Lehman, a counselor with the Trinity Recovery Center at Trinity Regional Hospital. Pam has a Master of Science degree in counseling.
Reprinted with the permission of the Community Action Network. © Community Action Network, All Rights Reserved.
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