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A Sustainable and Loving Discipline Method

Sometimes it can be very challenging to communicate anything with your child. Setting clear expectations regarding what's acceptable behavior and what isn't is imperative to successfully teach your child right from wrong. If the parameters are muddled, or the child learns that in one situation, the rules hold true, yet in another case, the same rule does not, it makes for confusion and frustration on both sides.

Sit down with your child well in advance and line out the expectations and consequences of misbehaving or a misdeed. Make it clear that in no uncertain terms, is there any room for negotiation at the time of the infraction, and that should such behavior occur you intend to be firm in your discipline. Establish expected good behavior, the rules, and the consequences upfront. For example, before going for an activity, let them know what is expected from them ("we are going to the museum, where there is no touching, no running, no yelling") ask them to repeat them with, if necessary, explain why there are these rules. Of course, the same method can be applied to general at-home behaviors, dinner time, playing with friends, etc.

Rules regarding your child's safety, health, or well-being should have no room for negotiation when being set or enforced. Other rules can be openly and honestly discussed with your child, and an agreed-upon action should be forged that both parents and children can agree upon.

If necessary, make a contract between parent and child. Lay it all out in black and white, in language, your child can clearly understand. For younger children, you might want to develop a useful behavior chart within the contract. For each week that goes by without any infractions being noted, a favorite or particular activity might be earned. The connection between good deeds and special time with mom and/or dad might be just the currency they understand.

It is important to also let the children know if in your family a serious rule has been broken, there is a consequence for it and what it is. If the children are old enough, you may be open to letting them decide what the implications for breaking a major rule. Remember, when you are preparing your child to live in a society where there are rules, and some of them have more weight than others.

But all children need to understand that disciplining them is your way of teaching them what's acceptable behavior and what isn't. It may seem as though children fight rules and regulations. Still, they truly know that such parameters are meant for their well-being, health, safety, and enable them to grow into a mature person capable of making wise decisions.

Understand that all children will at some point break some rule, they are testing boundaries, and all people make mistakes. Don't be frustrated by that, just follow with the agreement your family has over it. This way, they will know when they have hit their boundaries. Do not fail your child by refusing to teach them this important lesson, they will need this skill later in life to create and sustain healthy relationships, and thrive in a community.

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