I have a challenging time disciplining my daughters. When I come home, I am like a child. I want to play. But it’s dinner time, and our kids only have another 90 minutes to complete all their night chores and prepare for bedtime. I used to come home and do things my way but immediately wondered why my kids wouldn’t go to sleep on time. My oldest would take advantage of me. I had to fluff her pillows, tuck her in, get her water, tell her 12 more stories, sing her three more songs, and show her YouTube videos of sleeping kittens. Clearly, I was doing something wrong—I needed some child discipline methods.
My wife is a master at setting our children back on course when their behaviors get the best of them. I had to humble myself to learn how to do what she already knew how to do. Here are 3 important ways to discipline your kids.
FirmlyBeing firm is about clearly explaining to your kids what behavior is tolerated and what is not.
Firm discipline doesn’t mean screaming at your kids. It means you get on their eye level, speak clearly in a stern tone, and explain how they’re supposed to behave. If they refuse, do not repeat the request. Being firm is about clearly explaining to your kids what behavior is tolerated and what is not. Your child shouldn’t disrespect you, but when it happens, you must firmly step in and correct the behavior. And if you are not serious about this approach, kids think it’s a game, and you will only frustrate yourself.
Your discipline must be fair—the punishment must fit the crime. I’ve learned this the hard way. To overcompensate for my weak discipline skills, I would inflict harsh penalties on my daughter, like no TV for a month or donating her Barbie Dream House. If you go too far, your child will see you as unfair, and his or her behavior may worsen. If your daughter doesn’t get off her phone when told, then take it away for a day. If your son eats the cupcake you told him not to eat, it would be fair to take away his dessert tomorrow. It would be unfair to stop sending him to school with Snack Packs for the rest of the year.
Consistency is the most important part of disciplining kids. Whatever your method is, it must be consistent. Routine is how your children learn new and positive behaviors. Suppose Dad allows disrespectful behavior when alone with his kids but comes down hard when they are with their mom. In that case, it creates confusion. “Dad only cares how we behave when Mom’s around. What’s wrong with Mom?” That is the message we send. You must be consistently firm and consistently fair. Allow flexibility up to the clearly acceptable behavior line, but immediately step in to correct behavior when kids cross it.
Sound off: What child discipline methods work for your kids?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think I discipline you?”