Discipline- Be Clear, Be Firm, Be Consistent
by: Helen Williams
Children learn best by being given clear, firm and consistent direction from parents who are clear, firm and consistent in their approach.
How to Discipline Children by Being Clear:
Firstly find and maintain clarity within yourself and then follow through on simple, clear instructions. Clarify for your self what being clear means. It is about being plain, obvious, and understandable in a clear, short sentence that explains exactly what you mean. It isn't about maybe this or maybe that.
Often parents have no idea that they chop and change their minds within minutes. To become clear about your own patterns of behavior, observe yourself and ask for your partner's help in this. "We are going to tidy up your toys in five minutes", is clear and direct. Follow this with, "Please help me tidy up your toys now" and it means just that. Be firm with yourself about this. It doesn't mean soon, or later, but now.
I have seen parents give out this simple instruction, then become distracted themselves by a television program, conversation or magazine. What their children observe is parents saying one thing and doing another and this gives a much distorted message. Multiplied over many times each day, is it any wonder that children cease to follow simple instructions?
How to Discipline Children by Being Firm:
Firstly find and maintain firmness for yourself and then follow through with firm clear directions in a firm, clear tone. Clarify for your self what being firm means.
To be firm is to be certain, definite, and determined. It is also being loving, kind and calm. It means saying no and meaning no, or saying yes and meaning yes and sticking to it. It's about now being now. How often does your no become perhaps, later, maybe giving in, next time, soon, or alright then? This is a very common fault in how to discipline children and again it leads to numerous mixed messages for children.
Resolve within yourself and with your partner's help to ascertain how often you are both easily swayed into changing your decisions. Are you allowing your children to manipulate you? Imagine how simple your life will become when you are clear and firm within yourself.
It is every child's right to KNOW they can trust their parent's boundaries. So firstly, become firm with your own boundaries and then apply this to your parenting discipline. "It is bedtime, (bath time, meal time) in five minutes" is a clear direction. Now follow through on this. Giving the direction in a calm, clear, firm tone of voice helps your children to understand that you mean what you say. Being firm is about being in control of both yourself and the situation.
How to Discipline Children by Being Consistent:
Firstly find and maintain consistency for yourself and then follow through with a firm, clear, consistent approach. Clarify for yourself what being consistent means. To be consistent is to be reliable, dependable and constant. These words immediately convey comfort don't they? Let's look at the opposite of being consistent. Contradictory, unpredictable, changeable. That's definitely lacking in comfort and safety.
So how do you want to be seen by your children?
To begin with it can seem quite time consuming to concentrate on clear, firm, consistent guidelines. Be aware that this is very true. It takes concentrated effort and time to change old habits to new ones, but if you maintain consistency, you will be very surprised how quickly new patterns of behavior are formed.
Parenting Discipline In Summary: With parenting discipline we are teaching our children how to have self control, self discipline and to become self reliant, so they are able to make good choices for themselves. The only way children can learn to do this is by being given the opportunities for this learning.
This means not over protecting them, or doing everything for them, but maximizing their opportunities to learn through personal experience and observation, even when this means making mistakes. Can you see the opportunities here to change some of your own patterns of behavior into superior ones? Clear, firm, consistent parenting is quality parenting. You learn to trust your own responses and your children are surrounded by your loving constancy. This is the recipe for creating a happy, well adjusted family.