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Opinion & Essays - Apr, 1999 Issue #57

Children and Discipline
By: Thomas E. Carter PhD, Director
Shamrock Educational Academy
April 8, 1999

The way we discipline our children has a direct impact on the way they function in society. Research shows children will demonstrate higher motivation, better social skills, higher grade point averages, and stay on task longer through attention to detail, when their parents are consistently both firm and fair when directing their children. This type of parent sets clear and fair rules, and gives clear reasons for their rules they consistently enforce. The key point here is consistency, no more, no less. 

Ask yourself as an adult, is consistency important in your life? If a posted speed limit is changed each day and the laws pertaining to driving are not clear, is this a safe situation? Today you may be allowed to drive eighty miles per hour, but tomorrow there is no indication of a limit, and the third day the limit is twenty-five miles per hour. This inconsistency can be very disruptive, for example when you planned to go eighty miles per hour to get to a meeting on time. Everyone needs consistency and you, as a parent must provide this safe and consistent environment for your child on a day to day basis. 

Children need adult guidance and supervision, but as in all things, too much of a good thing can be bad. We can not micromanage our children and expect them to do well. If you rescue your child from problem solving, you prevent your child from developing the needed skills to deal with stressful situations that may arise. So, assign your child tasks that are challenging, but tasks that you know they can complete successfully with little or no supervision. This builds self- esteem and a sense of one’s own ability to face challenges and succeed. Throughout this entire process you will build your child into an adult that is confident, responsible, self-reliant, and able to teach others the qualities you have taught your own child. We are all products of our environment, especially if the environment is positive and rewarding. Growing up, many of us have said we will not parent as our parents did. Why? Because most have thought as a child that our parents were too strict and controlling, preventing us from doing things we wanted to do. Looking back at this from an adult perspective, we find we have grown to understand that such decisions were made out of safety, love, and maturity. So we then we come full circle and enact the same rules with our own children. We now understand that the decisions that were made were mostly in our best interests and have molded us into the adult that we are today. 

Do not be afraid to parent with direction! Keep in mind the basic guideline that parenting in an effective manner means doing what is in your child’s best interest at all times. Once again this means setting up clear, consistent and fair rules that you have given clear reasons for enacting. Most importantly, this means setting up rules that you as a parent will consistently enforce on a day to day basis.

Copyright © 1999, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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