By Clarice Aviñante
Research has shown that punishment results not in constant obedience but in fear, aggression, and avoidance. Furthermore, many parents who use punishment just end up being frustrated because their kids do not stop misbehaving. Because of this, there is more awareness and acceptance now for Positive Parenting. It advocates the use of discipline tools that are respectful and encouraging and aims to help parents raise emotionally healthy children, instead of punishing kids through blame, shame, or pain.
The next time you are tempted to yell, send your kids to the corner for a timeout, or to hit, try these strategies instead:
1. Check the environment. Is the situation conducive to tantrums? Was your child deprived of his usual nap? Is he overstimulated? Do remember that even adults get grouchy when tired or are not in their comfort zones, so it is perfectly understandable why kids misbehave in certain environments. Sometimes, parents need to realize that the kid’s conduct is not a misbehavior but merely a reaction to an unnatural situation. When you realize this, it is easier to feel sympathy for your child and not punish.
2. Ask questions. Kids are wired to explore. So instead of blowing your top when your kid misbehaves, ask him why he did what he did. If you ask kindly, chances are you will learn what was going on inside your child’s mind, and what you previously labeled as being naughty actually has a reason behind it. Of course, the reason may not be valid for you, in which case redirect or point your kid to the right direction.
3. Demonstrate. A constant order in almost every household is to “pack away,” but it is seldom that the parent takes time to train her child how to pack away. Is packing away putting away all the toys on the shelf or is it dumping everything in a chest? For all we know, for the child, packing away is defined as pushing all toys to one corner of the room. To avoid this, steps on how to do things must be clear. In the same manner, if you are asking your child to do something and he refuses to do it (change clothes, brush teeth), check first if he was already taught how to do it. If not, demonstrate it to him.
4. Let natural consequences happen. You buy your daughter a dozen tubs of different colors of PlayDoh and she is ready to play with it. You are so excited because this means me-time for you. Before you leave the room, talk to her first and agree on basic things. How many colors is she allowed to play with at a time? Is she allowed to mix colors? When you have made sure that she has understood your agreements, you may leave. When you return and see that all the PlayDoh is just one big lump of brown, resist the urge to shout. Remember that it is just PlayDoh, and use this opportunity to teach your daughter about natural consequences. Tell her in a kind and firm manner, that because she chose to mix all the colors, she now just has one color. No yelling, no shouting, no guilt trips, and most importantly, no rescuing (don’t go buying different colors again). The next time your daughter laments the lack of color, say “I know you want to have different colors” and refrain from saying more. In this manner, you are teaching your daughter to own her choices and to stand by the consequences of her decisions.
This article was originally published in Working Mom’s August 2015 issue. For updates, check out Working Mom's Instagram and Facebook page.
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