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Parenting Guide Sheets
14. Introducing Discipline

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Page 14B
b) Determine from the outset what style of parenting you will use

Parents generally will fall into one of the following categories:
i) Parents who GIVE ORDERS
· These tend to use a combination of reward and punishment.
· This often produces a child who expects to have to earn acceptance.
ii) Parents who GIVE IN    
· These are parents who have no guidelines and chaos ensues.
· This child fails to learn to respect others and fails to learn about feelings, rights & responsibilities.
iii) Parents who GIVE CHOICES
· These parents give choices of action to fit the child's age and maturity.
· This child learns respect, responsibility and decision making.
In reality, because we're all imperfect, we will give orders and we will give in, but learning to give choices (which we'll consider in detail below) is far better.
c) Establish a recognition of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the family
                    i.e. establish boundaries of behaviour
When your child knows a secure environment in the form of your totally committed love for them, they can easily accept guidance and direction.
Talk with them from the earliest age and as they grow older, seek to convey understanding as to WHY some things are unacceptable. Seek to gain their agreement.    
Teach positive behaviour - respecting others by the use of ‘please' and ‘thank you'. Remember politeness is simply a form of respect and remember all we said about respect on the second page about Self-Esteem..      
Teach what is unacceptable behaviour - abusive language, violent and destructive behaviour.
NB. Although we may have decided to be a parent who gives choices, this is NOT the choice of whether, say, to be violent to a younger brother or sister or not. These are things you wish to teach that are no-go areas!
d) Establish a Structure or Pattern for dealing with non-acceptable behaviour.
When your child is a baby, discipline is meaningless; they are simply learning.
When your young child puts their fingers in the soil in a flower pot they are learning to feel.
When they pull the cat's tail the cat may let them know that's unacceptable or you may have to stop them and explain that that might be hurting the cat.
Try to avoid too many ‘No's’ but do use ‘No!’ to convey something that is unacceptable.   
Keeping away from things that will hurt them (heat, electricity, prickly plants) has to come by:
· providing protection (barrier or moving out of range where possible)  and
· saying ‘No!’ with an explanation
  For further forms of discipline see next page.
e) Keep an Open Environment - hold Family Meetings

I confess when I first heard the suggestion of holding family meetings, I thought it was just a smart idea some parental trainer had come up with, the latest fad!
I've come to recognise the real value of ‘family meetings' and would thoroughly recommend them.
They can be weekly or fortnightly or monthly, at a particular set time and all the family can participate
As the children grow older they can be allowed to chair the meeting
The purpose of the meeting is to talk about family matters - things that worry, concern or upset, things the family might be going to do together, and so on.  
It is simply a forum for communication for everyone in the family.
3. Giving Choices
a) Choosing to Give Choices
We noted above two extreme parenting styles - to give orders or to give in - and suggested a third approach that is more democratic, giving choices.
This style places limited options before your child but lets them choose from those options.
Making choices is a natural part of life and we need to teach our child to do this from early on.        
Oddly enough, when we give our child two choices, they rarely ask for a third but consider the two given.
b) Natural choices in life
    The following are some of the natural, easy choices that may occur with our children:
· jam or honey on their bread
· which book to read together
· which toys to let a visiting cousin play with
· which of two shirts in a shop to buy.
c) Inabilities of Toddlers
Of course very young children are still learning and can't be expected to do certain things. The following are such things where choices are inappropriate:
· your toddler is probably too young to learn to distinguish between things that they can handle safely and things that are breakable. Rather than ban them touching everything, it is simply easier to put all breakable ornaments above their reach- level.       
· two year olds cannot be expected to sit still and quietly and therefore if you are in company you need to give them things to play with or to distract them. (My wife used to collect odds and ends and hand them out one by one in situations that required them to be quiet, to distract and give our youngest children something to do).
· biscuits or sweets left within reach of toddlers are a natural target and so for the reasons given above, they should not be left within sight or reach if you do not want your child to have them at the moment.
d) Choices of Behaviour
Where a behaviour has negative effects we can create choices that show up the negative consequence and help our child avoid it.
The following are some examples:
Example 1: 5 year old Carl leaves toys all over the floor. His mother asks him to collect them up and put them in a box when he has finished playing with them. He doesn't seem to want to do this. Mother explains that he is old enough to learn to do this and so gives him choices: “Either you can help Mummy to put them away (to start with - later he will do it on his own) or Mummy will put them away and they won't come out again until she thinks you are able to take responsibility for them. Which do you want to do? It's your choice?”   He leaves her to clear them up so they are put away until a couple of days later she asks if he thinks he's able to clear up if he has those particular toys out again.
Example 2: Eight year old Tracy plays outside and comes in with muddy shoes on, and is about to take mud across the kitchen floor. Her father gently points out the mud and says, “Darling, take off your muddy shoes when you come in or you'll need to wipe the mud off the floor. You decide which is the better course of action.” Tracy thinks it will be fun to see mud on the floor and so steps out onto the floor. Dad grins and says good naturedly, “OK, here's your mop, let's see you clear it up.” It may be fun to mop up but next time Tracy decides she doesn't want to stop and clean up so takes her shoes off on the mat.

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