Punishment versus Discipline:
Consider the difference between punishment and discipline. To me, punishment involves an unrelated, often arbitrary penalty for some type of infraction. Discipline involves setting logical consequences for actions.
As a teacher, I was always encouraged to use discipline as opposed to punishment, and it worked.
Step One: Set the parameters
It’s preferable if you can set the consequences ahead of time instead of in the moment. Think of the behaviours that you are working on with your child right now. One might be cleaning up toys. If you ask your child to clean up a toy and she doesn’t, a logical consequence would be that the toy is removed for a day and your child doesn’t get to play with it.**Step Two: Communicate with your child
Sit your child down and discuss ‘the new rule’ during a neutral time when everybody’s happy. Talk about the consequence and make sure that they understand. I also like to give kids ONE WARNING. That means, they get a reminder before the consequence is imposed.
Step Three: Communicate with your partner
Consistency is the KEY with discipline, so be sure to get all of your child’s caregivers on board. It helps to keep the consequences really SIMPLE so that everyone can follow them. You could even talk through a possible scenario:
With our example, we’d say that we first ask Pip to clean up her blocks. If she does it right away, go over the top complimenting her for taking such good care of her things. If she doesn’t do it, remind her of the consequence. “Pip, if you don’t clean up your blocks, they are taken away and you won’t get to play with them for a whole day.” If she still doesn’t clean them up, then take them away immediately.
Step Four: Be firm and be consistent
Once you’ve set a consequence, don’t back down and make exceptions…stand your ground. You’ve put a lot of thought into the consequence and you believe in the values you are teaching your child, so stick to it! Don’t think you’re doing your child any favours by backing down. Your kids will respect you more in the long run if you model strength of character.
Step Five: De-brief
After the consequence has been put in place, reflect upon whether or not it is working. Is the desired behaviour improving? If not, re-think your consequence. Discipline is a process, and different consequences work for different children.