Disciplining-Kids: Keeping the Peace at Home

Dr. Jennifer J. Sowle

Disciplining-kids, meeting their emotional needs, producing self-sufficient young adults, can be a daunting task for parents. Being a good parent is really an extension of being a good person, a healthy person. Parenting can bring out the best and the worst in us. And like marriage, parenting can be difficult and challenging, but the rewards are many fold. Parenting is an awesome responsibility and also holds the potential for intense joy.

When two adults come together with their own individual baggage from childhood, co-parenting, especially in disciplining-kids can be difficult. Very often, parenting styles conflict and each parent feels they know the "right" way to respond to children. In order to parent effectively, parents must spend a fair amount of time talking about their views when they are alone and away from the children. Some compromises may have to be made in order for parents to present a united front in disciplining-kids. Having a structure in place which has been agreed upon in advance can help parents work together and maintain control in the home.

1. Establish the Rules: The co-parents find a time to sit down together and establish the house rules for disciplining-kids. Use past incidents and problem behaviors of the children to try to address most situations that might arise.

2. Each rule will have a consequence attached. If the rule is not kept, the child can be reminded ONCE using the technique in Item 4 below. If the behavior continues, the consequence will be given without exception. Make the consequence immediate and short. In disciplining-kids, make the consequence something that will have an impact on the child. Try to make the consequence fit the rule. Please hammer out all disagreements before the family meeting.

3. Call a meeting of the family and present the rules as well as the consequences. Co-parents work as a team and do not disagree with one another, or with the children. Simply present the rules and consequences. Have the rules written out and post them on the refrigerator or another centrally-located place.

4. When disciplining-kids, when the child has misbehaved, stop whatever you are doing and get at eye level with the child. Take the child gently by the shoulders, if needed. Look directly into the child’s eyes and speak in a calm, yet firm, voice. Let the child know that they are not behaving correctly or have broken a house rule. Remind them once, and only once. Tell them if they continue to misbehave, they will receive the consequence. If the behavior continues, give the consequence in a calm manner.

5. When using a time-determined consequence like spending time on a chair or in the designated consequence area, give the child a specific time which is age-appropriate (e.g., one minute for each year of age). You want to be sure to have them end their consequence by apologizing. Repeat the “offense” to them so they know what they are apologizing for. For example, “Are you ready to apologize for hitting your brother?”

6. In disciplining-kids,children can get into power struggles with the parent. As strange as it seems, children do get a sense of power from upsetting their parent. When you get angry and lose control, the child wins….and also loses. Never get angry when disciplining a child.

7. Use a great deal of praise and positive reinforcement for good behavior, smile and nod and look directly at the child when praising him or her. Give your child attention when they behave well.

When the children are out of control, the home can seem like a war zone instead of a sanctuary. With a little forethought and a discipline structure which is agreed upon in advance, parents can work together as a team to bring peace to the household. Children really do appreciate knowing what is expected of them and will quickly learn what is acceptable and what is not. Kindness and consistency is the key to effective parenting.

Disciplining-Kids and Parenting Advice