Ex­perts’ tips on ef­fec­tive child dis­ci­pline

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - DANIELLE BRAFF

There’s no per­fect way to par­ent, nor is there a sin­gle way to dis­ci­pline a child. But par­ent­ing ex­perts have stud­ied dis­ci­pline meth­ods, so we asked them what they wish par­ents knew about dis­ci­plin­ing their chil­dren.

Here are what some ex­perts said:

■ Reg­u­late rather than dis­ci­pline

For a long time, we be­lieved that chil­dren were mis­be­hav­ing when they acted out, says Car­rie Contey, a hu­man de­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist based in Austin, Texas.

“We now know that when chil­dren are mis­be­hav­ing, they’re ac­tu­ally stress be­hav­ing, and they aren’t ra­tio­nal at all times,” she says.

When chil­dren are tired or hun­gry or ex­cited, their brain is in a state of stress. When they are in a state of stress, the last thing they want is for some­one to tell them to use their words.

“The stress brain doesn’t process words,” Contey says. “We need to say, ‘Wow, you are re­ally hav­ing a hard time. I’m go­ing to help you calm down.’”

In­stead of yelling, par­ents should lit­er­ally get down to their child’s level, com­mu­ni­cate that they’re not a threat to them and hold them if they want to be held.

■ Preven­tion is best

Mak­ing emo­tional con­nec­tions through­out the day will pre­vent bad be­hav­ior later. Contey says that touch­ing and hug­ging chil­dren is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant. Her rule: Eye-to­eye, skin-to-skin, heart-to­heart. This can be done for 20 min­utes or 20 sec­onds, as long as the child knows that you hear him and he’s safe.

“It helps them not slip into the part of the brain that feels like he needs to be dis­ci­plined,” Contey says.

■ Use an in­duc­tive state­ment

In­stead of yelling when a child does some­thing wrong, you should say, “‘I’m dis­ap­pointed in that be­hav­ior be­cause I know you’re a car­ing per­son,’” says Michele Borba, a Palm Springs, Calif.-based ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor of UnSelfie: Why Em­pa­thetic Kids Suc­ceed in Our All-About-Me World. “The re­sult is that the child is more likely to think about what he did, and more likely to be a car­ing per­son be­cause he wants to please you.”

■ Prob­lem-solve

In­stead of putting a child into de­fense mode when he has done some­thing wrong, it’s more ef­fec­tive to prob­lem­solve with him so he learns what he did wrong and doesn’t do it again in the fu­ture, says Bon­nie Har­ris, New Hamp­shire-based au­thor of Con­fi­dent Par­ents, Re­mark­able Kids: 8 Prin­ci­ples for Rais­ing Kids You’ll Love to Live With. For ex­am­ple, in­stead of yelling at him, you should say, “‘You want this and I want that. How do we make this work for both of us?’” Har­ris says. ■ Al­low the child to ex­pe­ri­ence the nat­u­ral con­se­quences

Par­ents get too in­volved and fix the prob­lem for their chil­dren or take on the prob­lem as their own. If John hits Sam, the par­ent will typ­i­cally yell at John or send him to his room. But the par­ent might not know what ac­tu­ally hap­pened. John may have coped un­til he couldn’t cope any­more, and he fi­nally hit Sam.

“If he is yelled at, he feels com­pletely mis­un­der­stood, and noth­ing is learned,” Har­ris says. The par­ent in that sit­u­a­tion is sim­ply set­ting the chil­dren up for their next fight. In­stead, Har­ris says, al­low John to ex­pe­ri­ence what he did. He was im­pul­sive and he hit Sam, but he prob­a­bly didn’t mean to do it. The par­ent can coach them by ex­plain­ing that they both seem to be hav­ing a hard time. What do they both want to say to each other and how can they make amends?

■ Be firm and kind

It’s pos­si­ble to do both, and this helps chil­dren see that you’re be­ing fair, says Vanessa La­pointe, Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia-based psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor of Dis­ci­pline With­out Dam­age: How to Get Your Kids to Be­have With­out Mess­ing Them Up.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.