Disciplining your child teaches him the type of behavior that is acceptable and what is unacceptable. It teaches him how to follow rules and learn the consequences on not adhering to them. To make your child remember his misdemeanor, punishments may also be implemented…but this doesn’t mean good discipline is mostly about punishments. Babies and toddlers before 2 years old, for example, need not receive punishments yet since they’re too young to connect the punishment with their previous action. The best way to prevent them from doing something unacceptable or dangerous is to remove them from such situations. Make sure they are monitored at all times.
There are several types of discipline techniques you may choose, depending on several factors you need to consider, such as your child’s age, temperament, the type of inappropriate behavior he or she displays, and of course the style you’re most comfortable with. The following are the recommended techniques by the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Mental Health Association:
1. Natural consequences
Let your child experience the consequences of his actions. For example, if he throws a tantrum and deliberately breaks his toy, allow him to realize this means he cannot enjoy playing with the same toy afterwards. If she keeps dropping her cookies, let her realize that she’ll soon have no more cookies to eat if she keeps dropping them.
2. Logical consequences
Similar to natural consequences, this technique involves setting consequences related to the unacceptable behavior. For example, if he goes beyond his allowed TV time per day, then the excess minutes will be deducted from his viewing time the next day. Make sure the consequences you set are fair and justifiable (hence, “logical”).
3. Reward good behavior
Compliment or acknowledge your child’s good behavior so you encourage him to continue it. Greeting him with phrases like “Good job on cleaning your room!” or “thank you for throwing the trash in the garbage can!” is mostly enough to inspire more positive actions from your little one.
4. Take away privileges
If the bad behavior has no logical or natural consequence, you can take away a privilege as a form of punishment. For example, if he fails to finish his homework on time, you can suspend his mobile tablet usage time later. It’s best if you can think of a privilege, and the suspension of this privilege, that is related to the behavior.
5. Time out
Time outs work best for kids 2 years and older. This basically means your child has to stay put in a quiet, boring place (like facing a wall in your living room) for a period of time as a form of punishment for bad behavior. Make sure you discuss this punishment with your little one in advance before implementing it so he understands why, so perhaps his first offense should go unpunished and be used as the example for the discussion. If he incurs a second offense, implement the time out.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and mental health associations do not recommend physical punishment (a.k.a. corporal punishment) such as spanking, pinching or other actions that can inflict physical pain to the child. According to the AAP, physical punishments can make children more aggressive, violent and may cause the little ones to think that hurting others physically, especially your loved ones, is okay. Spanking also makes kids fearful of their parents and in a way teaches them to be better at not getting caught.
Non-physical discipline techniques have been proven to be far more effective that corporal punishment and have fewer negative consequences.
Choosing discipline techniques also depends on the parenting style you are most comfortable with. There are three basic styles, according to the American Mental Health Association (AMHA)
1. Authoritative – an authoritative parent gives his or her child clear expectations and consequences but is also affectionate. This type of parent allows for collaborative problem solving with his or her child and is also flexible when dealing with behavioral challenges. The AMHA believes this is the most effective style of parenting.
2. Authoritarian – similar to the first style, an authoritarian parent also has clear expectations and consequences, however, little affection is shown toward the child. This type of parent imposes his unquestionable authority and gives illogical reasons like "because Mommy is always right!"
3. Permissive – this type of parent is the opposite of the authoritarian parent. He or she shows too much affection toward his or her child but neglects to discipline.
Both authoritarian and permissive parenting styles have been deemed less effective compared to the authorities style, according to the AMHA.
Know When to Ask for Help
Sometimes a child becomes too uncontrollable that despite joint efforts of the family and school authorities, he still manifests disrespectful, aggressiveness and destructive behavior. Sometimes it could also be the opposite – he could show signs of depression and suicidal tendencies.
Know when it’s time to seek professional help. A mental health practitioner should assess your child and give you options for treatment.