Things to Remember When Correcting Your Child
Today we have a guest post from Valerie at Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. Val has been one of my favorite blogs to read for everything related to parenting as far back as I can remember. I’m so honored that she’s sharing her wisdom on my blog today!
When your child needs to be corrected, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture and focus on gaining control in the moment. Children make mistakes often. They do things they shouldn’t often. They are downright disobedient often. These things are all normal. Normal is not synonymous with acceptable, so we parents work to correct this behavior and help our children learn to make better choices. Here are 12 things to remember when correcting your child.
Consistency is Key
If you want your child to follow rules consistently, you need to have consistent rules and consequences for breaking those rules. You cannot fairly expect your child to always obey and do what is expected if you sometimes enforce rules and other times don’t. It is also unfair to expect your child to respect the rules if you sometimes have the rule and sometimes say it is okay to not follow the rule. Your child won’t know what to expect or how to anticipate while rule will be true on any given day. When you set rules, make sure they are rules you are willing to enforce consistently. If you set a rule and decide you don’t really like it, it is okay to change that rule. Just don’t go back and forth on it. Along with consistency, if you give an ultimatum, follow through with it. Many times parents threaten a hefty consequence they won’t enforce because they hope the fear of the consequence will prevent the child from disobeying. Children test boundaries. Your child will test you on it at some point. If you don’t follow through, your child takes note and tests some more. Children are smart little scientists.
Don’t Take Offense
When your child misbehaves, don’t take it personally. It isn’t against you. It is just because your child is a human child. Even adults do things they shouldn’t. A child has less willpower than an adult. We can’t expect more of them than we can give ourselves. They don’t disobey in order to annoy you. They may do it to test you and test your limits. They may do it to get your attention. They may do it because they are tired, hungry, or feeling grumpy. They don’t do it because they hate you. It isn’t about you or their feelings about you.
Be An Example
If you don’t want your child whining, don’t whine yourself. “What do you want?” said in a whiny tone will teach your child to whine. Your little one is always watching and will “listen” more to what you do than what you say. If your child is displaying a trait you do not like, look to yourself and spouse to see if your child is picking it up from either of you.
Teach In Times of Non-Conflict
The best time to teach your child how to behave is in times of non-conflict. Teach your child what is okay and what is off limits when your child is feeling amiable. Explain your expectations when things are calm
, not after your child has broken a rule she doesn’t know about.
Try to Distract
With children five and younger, distraction is a powerful tool. It can work for older children, too, but it is most effective in the younger years. Remove your child from the situation and move her focus to an activity that is okay. If you need your child to improve her attitude, ask her questions that change her focus and let her heart focus on something happy instead of what is wrong. See Distraction as a Discipline Tool for more.
Use Substitution as a Tool
Substitution is a powerful tool that can be used through all ages. When your baby wants to play in the dog water, give her a bowl of clean water to play with. The novelty will wear off and she will stop trying to play in the water. If your older child wants to do an activity that isn’t allowed, suggest a similar but acceptable activity. If your child chooses to hit a sibling, explain the hitting is not okay and give alternatives of what your child can do instead when angry.
Find Consequences That Work
What works for one child will not work for another. For one, you might remove privileges. For another, you might have a sticker chart. For another, you might do time-outs. Find what works for your child and what matters to him.
Look for Logical Consequences
Logical consequences are my favorite. A logical consequence is a consequence you give that fits with what was done. A good way to figure this out is to consider what was misused. If your child hits, you might remove your child from being around people. If your child talked back, your child might go to time out to take a moment before being allowed to be around and talk to other people. If your child refused to do her chores, she might not get to go to the park later that day.
Allow Your Child to Surrender with Dignity
When you correct your child, move on. Do not stare your child down. Do not watch him until he does what you say. Give the instruction and pretend to busy yourself with something else. Allow your child to move on without your eyes staring her down. Read Discipline Strategy: Surrender with Dignity
for more on this topic.
Analyze Your Boundaries and Allowances
If you are having to constantly correct your child, you might analyze your boundaries and allowances. Do you let your child do too much? Do you let him have too much freedom? Too much control in life? If you never have to correct your child, you might not have enough boundaries going on. If there is never conflict, you probably don’t have real rules.
Even Children Who Know Better Will Do Things They Shouldn’t
Remember that even the best behaved children will do things they shouldn’t at times. That is normal and to be expected. Correct it, but do not despair that your child is a horrible person. Your child is just a human.
Always End With Love
After you have corrected your child, make sure love is fully felt. You want to be loving throughout discipline, but be sure once things are settled, you give a hug and express how much you love your child. Do not remove the consequences at this time, but just ensure your child understands your love is not removed because your child made a mistake.
Correcting your child can be tiresome and draining. Hang in there and always remember you are doing it out of love and in order to help your child be the best person he/she can be. The energy you put into discipline is well worth it.