Discipline is never fun for kids or the parents. It hurts to discipline your child for both parties involved emotionally and sometimes, even physically. Here are three ways you can become a better rule setter and example to help your kids avoid needing to be disciplined in the first place.
1. Make Obedience Fun
Every child has things he does not want to do: brushing teeth, going to bed on time, taking a bath, doing homework, but they have to be done. Often, a verbal, firm command is appropriate. But sometimes, making what your child needs to do fun works too. For example, “Son, it’s time to brush your teeth” is often met with, “I don’t want to.” Try grabbing his favorite toy and saying, “Buzz is coming with you, so he can brush his teeth too!” Then actually brush Buzz’s teeth too! Suddenly it has become fun, and your son is happily brushing his teeth with Buzz by his side.
2. Give Clear Expectations
So much disobedience and discipline could be avoided if we only talked with our children beforehand. Discuss consequences ahead of time. Tell them the reason you are talking to them about this – the reason you will or will not allow something – is that you want what’s best for them. Also, be clear that you love them no matter what. They need to know that there is absolutely nothing that they can do or say that will ever take away your love for them.
3. Be a Good Example
As much as you may not want to admit it, your kids see how you treat your spouse and when you do the opposite of what you say. They learn more by observing than being told what to do because your actions speak louder than your words. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it beautifully when he said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear your words.” As my kids have become young adults, I continue to be amazed by what they pick up from watching me as I interact with their mom and my wife, Susan. Unfortunately, it seems like they pick up on the negative things I sometimes model more readily than the positive. As I get frustrated with my children when their actions aren’t honoring, I have to step back and ask, “Am I modeling what I am asking of them?” If not, change your ways now and be a steadfast example of how you expect your children to behave, benefiting them to avoid discipline.