Here are 10 proven parenting tips on how to discipline kids. These parenting tips are based on principles of positive discipline.
10 Tips on How to Discipline your Kids
- Start working on your child’s discipline from an early age
- Set daily routines for effective habit formation
- Lead by example with your own behaviour
- Be one step ahead of your child and anticipate bad behaviour!
- Communicate effectively with your child
- Consistency of your expectations is key to sustained good behaviour
- Your parenting style is important too!
- Positive discipline works!
- How you react to bad behaviour matters
- Your child should know that its bad Behaviour has consequences
We have prepared a short presentation of the key points of this blog. If you are in a hurry, here’s the link.
Read about each parenting tip mentioned above in detail below
Parenting Tip 1. Start working on your Child’s Discipline from an Early Age
Being disciplined is not a destination. It is a journey. Even adults have discipline issues occasionally. There will always be occasions where everyone slips up. But the important thing is that we pick ourselves up and try and do better the next time. Like most things in life, we learn better when we start early. As a parent start you should start focusing on inculcating discipline from a young age. Earlier the child gets into the cycle of discipline, the easier it will be to sustain it for ever.
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Parenting Tip 2. Set Daily Routines for effective Habit Formation
One of the best ways to introduce children to discipline is through setting a routine. Routines are important for children. As we noted in our blog on concentration, routines help give a sense of structure to children. In a world that is completely new and exciting, children rely on routines to give them a sense of normalcy. It brings predictability to a world, that can otherwise be overwhelming. You will greatly reduce chances of unforeseen disciplinary issues by creating a routine. Routines greatly minimize behavioural problems. We encourage you to set a routine that covers all the main activities of your child’s daily life including:
- Waking up Time
- Brushing Teeth and Shower/Bath
- Eating Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
- Going to Play School or School
With an effective routine set, you will greatly reduce the chances of unforeseen behavioural issues.
Parenting Tip 3. Lead by Example with your Own Behaviour
Children learn from their environment and by imitating the behaviour of their primary caretakers. If you are not disciplined yourself, it is unlikely that your child will be. Whatever your ideas on discipline are, be it eating neatly or speaking politely with elders or doing homework on time, you need to walk the talk. Forcing your child to be disciplined when you yourself are not, is not likely to work. Leading by example is a crucial positive discipline technique to inculcate discipline in a kid.
Parenting Tip 4. Be One Step ahead of your child and Anticipate its Bad Behaviour!
Every child will exhibit certain unique patterns when it comes to bad behaviour. Is your daughter likely to throw a tantrum for a chocolate bar when you take her to a supermarket? Is your son likely to create a fuss just before eating his meal? By observing and understanding the trigger points you can anticipate bad behaviour. And if you can anticipate it, you can prepare yourself and your child for it. Before I take my daughter out to the supermarket, I talk to her. I tell her that she will see many chocolate bars and candies in the supermarket, but I will not buy them for her. And I ask her if she is fine with this before I step out with her. This simple tactic has helped me a lot.
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Parenting Tip 5. Communication with your Child is Essential
Communication between the parent and child is key to developing a disciplined child. It is important to keep talking to your child about discipline. With regards to your behavioural expectations from your child, you need to articulate your reasons. If I am announcing to my daughter that I will not buy her any candies in the supermarket, it is also important for me to explain to her my reasons for this decision. For example, I explain to my daughter that her weekly quota of candies is over and that eating excessive candies is not good for her teeth. Sharing your reasons will help the child to understand that there is a rational and consistent thought-process behind your expectations. It is quite simple actually. Imagine your confusion if your boss just admonishes you for unknwon reasons! Lastly, do not let communication become a long-drawn negotiation. You need to be crisp and clear in stating your expectations and reasons. Do not negotiate with your child when it comes to your behavioural expectations.
Parenting Tip 6. Consistency of your expectations is Key to Sustained Good Behaviour
Consistency is the key to reinforce discipline and make it a habit. If you want your child to hold the hand of an adult before stepping onto the road, it is important that you are consistent on this point. You need to insist on it, every single time without exception. If you want your son to sit at the dinner table while eating his meal and not run around the house, you must be consistent in your expectation and insist on it every single day. Consistency is key to habit formation. In our experience of talking with many Indian parents, we find this crucial aspect missing. Many parents admonish the child once and then forget about it. And then they wonder why the same behaviour repeats again! If you are serious about child discipline, then you cannot act on it occasionally.
Parenting Tip 7. Your Parenting Style is Important Too!
In our earlier article, we looked at important theoretical styles of parenting. Parenting styles have a huge impact on how parents think about discipline. In general, indulgent and permissive styles of parenting are not conducive to raising a disciplined child. And while authoritarian style of parenting does induce discipline in children, it does so with a few negative consequences. After all, no parent would like their child to turn out to be meek, submissive and fearful. Authoritative style of parenting is the most balanced style. Authoritative style of parenting leads to good social, emotional and cognitive outcomes for the child in the long-term. We therefore strongly recommend authoritative parenting style and it is in line with the principles of the positive discipline.
Parenting Tip 8. Positive Discipline: Positive Reinforcement gives better results than Negative Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement when the child exhibits expected behaviour is more important than reacting harshly and negatively to undesirable behaviour. It is for this simple reason that positive discipline works. I remember a story which my friend narrated to me: When he got 99/100 in mathematics in a school test, his father’s reaction was not to congratulate him on getting 99 but to admonish him for losing the 1 mark! Do not forget to appreciate your child when he/she displays exemplary behaviour. Even after a particularly bad episode of indiscipline, never forget to remind your child you love her. Reassure the child that your love is undiminished and is not contingent upon good behaviour. It will go a long way in making the child secure and will reduce unacceptable behaviour in the future. We understand as parents ourselves, that concepts like positive discipline are easier said than done. Parents might sometimes feel that principles of positive discipline are just not practical. But positive discipline techniques can be easily implemented by most parents in 9/10 situations and with some effort, in all situations.
Parenting Tip 9. How you react to Unacceptable Behaviour by your Child is Important
Here comes the most important tip. It relates to how you handle bad behaviour or indiscipline. How you react to situations when your child displays behaviour that is unacceptable, will set the tone for future.
Important tips on how to handle situations of bad behaviour
- Do not react emotionally or in an extreme Manner. Remember that the kid is observing you even in the heat of the moment. If you lose your cool and react by raising your voice or worse, if you react with a violent body language, you will end up defeating the whole purpose. Be calm and composed. If you are amidst other people, be mindful of the fact that admonishing the child will hurt its fragile ego. If there are other people around, we would recommend that you take the child away to another room to have a chat.
- Remove the child from the immediate environment where the episode of indiscipline occurred. This helps immensely. Removal from the immediate vicinity will help the child come to terms with what just happened. It will also help the child find a dignified exit from the situation it finds itself in. In most cases even the child realises he/she has just done something that is not acceptable. Give the child a graceful exit path from the situation. By NOT changing the environment, you might be cornering the child, which will only serve to worsen the situation.
- Do not ignore bad behaviour. If you chose to ignore the child’s bad behaviour, the child will not learn that the demonstrated behaviour was not acceptable in the first place. Worse, the child could get emboldened to test the limits of acceptable behaviour. Whenever possible, nip bad behaviour in the bud. Sometimes parents ignore bad behaviour to avoid confrontation. This is not a good idea. If you are not in a position to express your displeasure immediately, say you are part of a family gathering or having a party at a friend’s place, do not forget to have the conversation at the first possible opportunity.
- No shortcuts, please! The easiest way to handle behaviour is to promise something that the child loves. Usually candies or an ice-cream. These tactics will not get you far. You might achieve peace momentarily but will not make any headway in solving the deeper issue at hand.
- Redirect the Child’s attention towards Other things. Once the episode is past, a good way to move on from the episode, is to redirect the child’s attention elsewhere. Once you have done all the steps mentioned above, there is no point in further dwelling on the issue. It is time to get on with life. Once you have made your point, let things return back to normalcy. This tactic works wonders for infants and toddlers as they have a small attention span and tend to forget and move on quickly. It often works for slightly older kids too.
Parenting Tip 10. Your Child should know that its Bad Behaviour will have Consequences
Finally, the child needs to know that there are consequences for behaving badly. The child should know that you will not ignore the episode and that you will take appropriate measures to prevent it from happening again. However, the nature of these measures matters a lot. Parents should strictly avoid any kind of violent or corporal measures as consequences. We encourage parents to explore options such as ‘time-out’. Time-out is a temporary separation of the child from the environment where the incident of bad behaviour occurred. You can read more about it here. It is quite effective. I know many modern Indian parents who are raising very disciplined children without ever resorting to violent and abusive measures.
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What is Discipline?
The word discipline means many different things. Some parents view discipline as a negative word which has very strict connotations. Some parents consider it as an essential aspect of child development and upbringing. Oxford dictionary defines the word discipline as “The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience”.
Wikipedia defines child discipline as “the methods used to prevent future behavioural problems in children”. When used as a verb (‘to discipline’) it means to instruct a child to follow a particular code of conduct.
There is a big variation between parenting styles across cultures in the world. Naturally, there are different types of discipline that have evolved in different parts of the world. Because of the wide-ranging differences in customs, educational levels, belief systems and moral values across the world, each culture evolves its own methods and strategies with regards to child discipline. We looked at this topic from the point of view of an Indian Parent. We specifically looked at positive discipline techniques and techniques that can easily be used to inculcate discipline at home.
Why do Indian Parents want their Children to be Disciplined?
We talked with Indian parents about discipline and why they wish their child to be disciplined. On the basis of our interactions, the broad reasons can be classified as:
- Disciplined child will focus on education and learning and increase its chances of success in its career
- For the child’s own safety
- Will enhance its own reputation and that of the family in the society
- Disciplined child will be easier to manage in the house
Do you as an Indian parent, have other reasons why you would like your child to be disciplined? If yes, please let us know in the comments section.
What do Indian Parents mean by a ‘Disciplined Child’?
When we further probed Indian parents about their ideas of an ideal disciplined child, they revealed the following attributes.
A disciplined child:
- Listens to parents and elders of the family on most occasions
- Displays traits such as ‘responsibility’ and ‘maturity’ in home, classroom and on social occasions
- Shows time sense and punctuality
- Avoids bad habits (not doing homework, bunking classes etc.)
If these attributes of a disciplined child match those of yours, you will find our tips on how to discipline kids to be very useful and practical. Please feel free to share any other thoughts about discipline as well.
We hope you liked our tips on how to discipline kids!
Watch this 2-min-video on 10 awesome ways on How to Discipline a Child!
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We would love to Hear from You!
How do you teach discipline to your child? Do you have any more ideas on how to discipline kids? How do you inculcate discipline at home?
Please share your thoughts in the commenting section below.