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Parenting Guide Sheets
14. Introducing Discipline

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Page 14A
Introducing this Page
The purpose of this page is to examine the idea of discipline and consider general approaches to it before moving on to the detailed ideas of the next two pages.
Because discipline can be a rather contentious subject we will look at all different possibilities so that you can try different approaches
1. What is Discipline
a) Early Thoughts and a Definition
b) Observing the Absence of Discipline
c) Dealing with the Situation
2. Long-Term Training
a) Work on establishing a foundation of self-esteem building
b) Determine from the outset what style of parenting you will use
c) Establish a recognition of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the family
d) Establish a Structure or Pattern for dealing with non-acceptable behaviour.
e) Keep an Open Environment - hold Family Meetings
3. Giving Choices
a) Choosing to Give Choices
b) Natural Choices in Life
c) Inabilities of Toddlers
d) Choices of Behaviour
4. Preventing Misbehaviour
a) Control the Environment
b) Lay down Expectations
c) Interact with your Child
d) Reinforce Good Behaviour
5. Recap
1. What is Discipline?
a) Early Thoughts and a Definition
I wonder if this is the first page in this series to which you jumped? It will have been for a number of people because discipline, or rather lack of it, is often the number one worry for many parents.
If it is, we would really counsel you to go back and read some of the earlier pages because often strong discipline seems to be needed because the foundations you'll find on the earlier pages have been missed, especially the page about Self-Esteem.
Discipline is not necessarily about punishment. Punishment is about inflicting a penalty upon your child, whereas discipline is all about training your child and that may or may not involve punishment as we'll soon see.
Dictionary definitions of ‘discipline' are useful:
- mental or moral training
- bring under control
Put those together and you have:
Discipline = training that brings self-control.
b) Observing the Absence of Discipline
See this in real life:
Illustration: Eight year old Kelly has been having difficulties with work at school. She's also just fallen out with her best friend. At the end of the school day, back at home, her younger brother, Brian, has just taken her favourite toy from her room. Kelly is not a little girl to be messed with. She snatches the toy from Brian, pushes him over and when her mother comes in to calm her down, she throws a temper tantrum, screams and smashes a fruit bowl. Kelly is not under control.
If we observe this situation dispassionately, we can recognise that at the end of this day, Kelly has come home from school upset and stressed. Work has been difficult, her friendship is in upheaval and she's probably just tired anyway.
At home she is faced with a problem brother! She hasn't learnt that the arbiter of disputes in the home needs to be Mum or Dad and so she acts strongly to deal with her brother. Any wise person can see that this behaviour was going to escalate and cause upset and ‘upset' means pain, physical or emotional!
For the vast majority of us, pleasure is preferable to pain. We try and avoid pain - at least when we are rational - and in control!
Kelly is clearly NOT in control because she enters into a course of action which, in a rational moment, she will know is going to cause trouble. It does. Mum gets involved and now Kelly really breaks loose, with emotions running amok and damage being caused as a result.
c) Dealing with the Situation?
Now what many readers will next be expecting is what do we do about Kelly now, to deal with this current situation?
What we'd like to do, instead, is consider what should have been done in the years beforehand so that this situation did not escalate in the way it did.
Do you see this? There are two ways we can view ‘discipline':

· the remedial action to deal with an out-of-hand current situation OR
· the long-term training that goes on all the time to produce a child in control of their life.
Yes, we will come on to the first one on the next page, but we need to consider the second one first, here on this page, because if we do it should reduce the number of times we will having to take remedial action.
2. Long-Term Training
Let's suggest, first of all, ways to go about this long-term training:

a) Work on establishing a foundation of self-esteem building
As we've seen on a previous page children who feel good about themselves are more likely to be in control of themselves and able to co-operate and harmonise with others.
So, build in respect, encouragement, help learning and unconditional love as seen on that previous page.

Continue to Part 2 of this Page

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