Teaching vs. Discipline
There was an article released in September, 2008 by the New York Times entitled, “It’s Not Discipline, It’s a Teachable Moment.” The article gave a lot of good information regarding the way many parents discipline their children today and why it’s ineffective. More than likely, if you’re a parent you’ve felt like you’re constantly getting on to your kids and not seeing much improvement. You aren’t alone here, because I’m guilty of it too.
If you’ve been following our blog for long, you know that I’m the (proud) mother of a 4 ½ year old little boy. While I love him to pieces and am very proud of him, he’s like me and a little headstrong/stubborn, which results in a lot of “disciplinary” action. After reading the article cited above, I’ve started thinking that my view of discipline is a little different than what it should be. Instead of viewing it as “discipline”, I should be looking at these instances as teachable moments. Below are a few tips mentioned in the article.
1. Focus on the Positives. We’ve all been in the awkward situation when our child throws an all-out temper tantrum. For me, it was in the middle of a local ice-cream shop when my little one was 18 months old. I have a friend who had her son throw himself on the floor in his little tuxedo at a wedding. Regardless of where you are, these situations occur and our natural response is to get angry and discipline the child for the bad behavior.
According to the article above, when we do this, we’re reinforcing the negative behavior because the child sees that he is getting attention from his action, encouraging him to do it again when he feels slighted. So, to reduce the amount of tantrums and other bad behavior we deal with in young children, we should repeatedly praise our kids for when they behave well. This will encourage them to continue the good behavior, because it earns them the attention from their parents that they desire.
2. Don’t Give Long Time Outs. There are times when some type of disciplinary action is required and we can’t just ignore our child’s behavior. Many parents feel time out is the best solution for young children. However, according to the article, parents mess up by giving time outs that are too long. This causes the child to become bored, forget what she was in trouble for and start acting up again. The rule of thumb is to give a time out no longer than one minute per every year of the child’s life.
3. Be Involved with Teens. Finally, I know not all of you are parents to young children, but are now struggling with the teen years. The article above suggests that parents shouldn’t resort to grounding teens so much, but instead should tie the amount of freedom they’re given to the level of responsibility they show. Also, the article states that if parents want to keep their teens out of trouble, the best thing to do is stay involved in their lives by spending time with them regularly, know where they are going when they leave the house and who they’ll be with.
If you are interested in learning more about what the New York Times’ article had to say about teaching vs. discipline, you can find the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/health/healthspecial2/15discipline.html?_r=1&src=tp