The importance of consistent discipline
Tips and advice to help you stay consistent when tackling bad behaviour.
Being parents, we all know that children will, of course, be children.
They will inevitably be rowdy, unruly and cheeky from time-to-time. They will naturally push boundaries of what is and is not acceptable behaviour and this will start from the time they’re born until they reach adulthood…and maybe even beyond!
As their parents, it’s our job to make sure they don’t over-step the mark. Discipline is important in teaching children to be well behaved but it’s not always easy, especially if you’re a working parent.
“I think discipline is an issue in many households and it can be harder if you’re also working,” says parenting expert, Elizabeth O’Shea.
“Firstly, many parents don’t know a good range of ways to discipline children. Secondly, they want to enjoy some quality time with their children when they do get to spend time with them, and many parents let their children get away with things just to keep the peace. Lastly, it is difficult to maintain consistent discipline when there are other people looking after your child, which is often true with working parents.”
I know from experience that this can be tough. Being so busy during the week because of work means I want to make the most of my time at home with my children and it can be easier to relax our ‘house rules’ to avoid any major tantrums. However, I also know that it’s important that my children don’t think they rule the roost.
The balance can be so tricky!
“Children will inevitably misbehave from time to time,” says parenting expert, Elizabeth O’Shea. “But they behave much better when they know what the consequences will be for certain actions, and that these consequences are predictable and fair. Many children will try their luck when the consequences are not consistent.”
One of my other problems is that children are looked after by someone else when I’m at work. Thankfully that ‘someone else’ is my mother-in-law, but it still means that she has her own way of doing things.
We all know that it’s a grandparent’s job to spoil their grandchildren, but it can sometimes make it difficult when I’m trying to enforce a rule because it’s done differently elsewhere.
Do you find this can happen too? I suppose it’s a normal part of having someone that isn’t you care for your children while you work hard to keep a roof over their heads.
If you’re finding it difficult making sure the same rules apply everywhere, here are five tips for consistent discipline:
Pick your battles.
Sit down and work out what qualities you want to see in your children when they are grown up. These qualities are the ones that are important for your family. If you need to choose battles, these qualities are the ones you should be trying to instil.
Consistent discipline starts at home.
There will inevitably times where parents may be tempted to overlook bad behaviour; perhaps out of tiredness or the desire to spend rare family time having fun instead of disciplining.
However, it’s important to set clear boundaries for children early on and to reinforce them so that children will always know what is expected of them. This will help ensure bad behaviour doesn’t get out of hand when they’re older.
Talk to your childcare provider about how they deal with bad behaviour.
If you’re paying a childcare provider, many already have policies for ways they deal with misbehaviour. It’s a good idea to talk about their discipline methods and how they deal with your child when they misbehave.
Starting a conversation with ‘we are trying to keep discipline consistent and wondered if you could tell us what you do when our child misbehaves so we can do the same at home’ is a good idea. If you then make one or two suggestions about new things you are trying out, and ask if they would consider using that too with your child, many childcare providers will be only too happy to report back.
Don’t be a control freak!
It’s difficult for parents to insist their child is disciplined in a certain way unless there is a concern about unfair, harsh or punitive discipline. If the carer is fair and consistent with discipline and your child behaves well for them, it may be good to let them do what they feel is best.
Effective discipline doesn’t involve shouting or smacking.
There are many positive discipline techniques that are effective and fair, and are designed to help children learn from their mistakes rather than punish the child.
It’s good to explore a whole range of discipline methods that don’t involve shouting or smacking and talk about the success you have had with these techniques at home with people caring for your child.
For more information, Elizabeth O’Shea has written about discipline without shouting or smacking with ideas for positive discipline techniques on her website, Parent 4 Success.