How to Encourage Discipline in Children: Principle #7c

It is not unusual for parents and caregivers to feel like they have been saying “no” to their children all day long. To constantly be correcting and limiting a child’s activities can feel extremely exasperating. By nature, children are very impulsive and as they grow and develop, they seem to test limits more and more frequently.

 How to use words of discipline to teach and maintain structure and limits

How to reframe a don't statement and keep discipline.
Words of discipline can be said to help the child with behavior and teach at the same time.

We have been discussing principles of discipline for our children, and the seventh principle (which has been parsed out in segments because it is detailed) is to avoid discipline struggles whenever possible. Consequently, as above, one of the most constant struggles is the constancy of having to say “no” to the child in your care.

When caregivers cut off requests and activities with continual “nos,” the cumulative effect can add to a child’s sense of helplessness and increase his or her desire to be in control, which sets up negative patterns of interaction. There are a number of ways to make your child feel more in control while enforcing necessary limits and structure.  Here are some ways to change “don’ts“ to “dos.”

Reframing words of discipline from don'ts to dos.
Reframing words of discipline from don’ts to dos.

Imagine if you could record the interactions that you are having with your child as a caregiver. What would the conversation sound like? Would it be a constant exchange of negative comments or continuous “nos?” Take some time to play back your day and think about those interchanges. Maybe it would be a good exercise literally to tape your conversations to see how often these negative exchanges occur.

The way parents and caregivers speak to our children matters

Being intentional about providing alternatives to your child can change the environment of your home while helping your child maintain boundaries and limits. 

Helping children reframe their behaviors, choices and level of responsibility can make a significant difference to your child’s ability to self-regulate.  It is only one aspect of avoiding discipline struggles,  but it provides new opportunities to build a relationship that can provide structure as well as positive support for your child’s growth and development.                       

Gerry Vassar,  President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Information taken from Pathways to Competence, Sarah Landy, p. 406-407.


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