Effective Discipline For Kids

Effectively discipline for kids. When managing a child's behavior, it is important to focus on the situation, not the child; use positive rewards, not punishments; and always be consistent.

So many parents struggle with deciding on the best and most effective way to discipline their child. Some are concerned that they don't repeat the mistakes of their parents, while others see that what they are currently doing is just not working. Already well-known to teachers, psychologists, and other professionals who deal with children, there are three simple principles to keep in mind when disciplining your child:

- Focus on the situation, not the child

- Use positive rewards, not punishments

- Always, always, be consistent

Focus on the situation, not the child

Our first instinct as parents - and humans - is to punish a child for misbehavior. While this may be necessary, it is also important to look behind the problem behavior to discover its cause. What triggers the behavior? How can the situation be changed to remove that trigger? For example, if your toddler cries every time you pass the toy aisle, plan to steer clear of that section on your next visit. If your teen stays up all hours of the night playing video games or talking on the phone, simply remove those devices from his/her room.

Use positive rewards, not punishments

Scientific studies have shown that people respond more quickly to positive consequences than they do to negative consequences. This is as true in the world of business as it is in the family realm. Rather than focusing on the child's misbehavior, try to think of a positive alternative behavior that can be rewarded. Instead of scolding your child every night when he/she refuses to go to bed, offer to read him/her a story or play a favorite video in exchange for a reasonable bedtime.



Rewards will vary according to what a child wants and what is reasonable in a given situation. Be creative, and remember that rewards don't always have to cost money. Sometimes a hug or some attention can be a compelling reward. Just keep in mind the child's age, his/her interests, and what you can sustain over a period of time. Rewards can also lose their effectiveness as a child becomes accustomed to them, so be prepared to use alternatives. As soon as the problem behavior begins to disappear, rewards can gradually be phased out.

Always, always, be consistent

No program of punishments or rewards will be effective without consistency. If a child is not sure of receiving a reward for positive behavior, he/she will be less likely to engage in that behavior. Likewise, if a child is not sure of receiving a punishment for a negative behavior, he/she will be more likely to engage in that behavior. Consistently rewarding positive behavior may seem like a lot of work, but it is at least more pleasant work than punishing problem behavior. Although it is important to be consistent with rewards, as positive behaviors become more internalized, rewards can be gradually removed without any problem.

Using what is called a "˜token economy' can make being consistent with rewards easy. For every positive behavior, children can earn a given amount of tokens. When children have earned enough tokens, they can use them to "˜buy' different rewards that have already been agreed to by everybody involved. The advantages of this system is that the rewards are flexible, and giving children "˜tokens' is a fast and easy way to reward them on a daily basis.

Whatever method you decide on for disciplining your child, remember to focus on the situation, not the child; use positive rewards, not punishments; and always, always, be consistent.

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