How To Raise A Well-Behaved Child
For many people "discipline" is a terrifying word. Some people confuse discipline with spanking or physical punishment, considered to be unacceptable by most psychologists and pediatricians. Discipline is a teaching tool which embraces firm, fair, and consistent direction applied with lots of love.
From birth, children need to be taught how to manage their energy. Caregivers are responsible for loving and teaching children the best way they can. This is discipline. Discipline embraces understanding. To this end, caregivers must be tolerant of the many questions children ask often with astounding persistence and repetition; they must explain why a behavior is necessary, because the mind needs an explanation in order to conform. Thus discipline keeps a child focused on goals.
Caregivers may need to say "No" many times as they guide children. But, care should be taken not to quash a child''s natural curiosity and need to explore. Firm, fair, consistent discipline supports this. To be firm and fair, caregivers must patiently accept a child''s abundant impulses. And, it should never be forgotten that children are only beginners. Unconditional love enables caregivers to be accepting and patient.
It is natural for a child to test limits and rebel. If a child routinely rebels, a consequence must follow. The child must be given a choice ("If you choose not to tidy your room, there will be time out.") This fosters a sense of choice and consequence. In this respect, a temper tantrum is a habitual behavior adopted to gain immediate gratification, and it is the caregiver''s responsibility to teach children how to express their anger with a more positive behavior.
Children who are raised with discipline develop self-discipline the ability to set goals and stick to them. Self-discipline builds endurance, tenacity and pride.
Discipline teaches children about sharing, rules, and responsibility. If these experiences are missed, unru1y children often develop into irresponsible adolescents and adults.
Unless caregivers begin disciplining children now, society will probably continue to be burdened by supporting many irresponsible adults. It is time to befriend discipline and provide children with opportunities to build self-love, self-respect, and self-esteem. Those who love and respect themselves are able to love and respect others.
Licensed Psychologist & Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist
Edited by Arleen Jouxson-Meyers, M.D., M.P.H., Pediatrician.