Jessica asked me to sometime post on my methods and beliefs regarding discipline.
First I’ll be up front and tell you I’m having to correct a lot of lazy parenting in my youngest. That said, I know what’s worked for us, and that’s what I’ll share here.
Realize the difference between punishment and training.
- Do we want children that have been forced into obedience (whether by threats or other fear tactics)?
- Or do we want children that have been trained to cheerfully obey?
Training is reinforcing good behavior positively. As much as possible, we need to encourage our children to do the right thing.
Punishment should involve several things, here are two for you to consider:
- Spanking is only part of child training, it’s not the end all cure all. (It is an important part though, especially when training a young child!)
- If you spank for bad behavior and then give your child what they want anyway, you’ve punished, but you’ve mis-trained. Better to not spank at all, imho.
One way I encourage cheerful compliance, is by never giving them what they want when they’re whining/crying/pouting/screaming for it. That’s rewarding the negative behavior. You miss the boat on this one even once and your child’s memory won’t soon forget it. Consistency is key here.
This means, even if you spank for the whining (or whatever) don’t give in to the immediate gratification of whatever it was they were whining for in the first place. Or they’ll think the spanking was worth it: they still outsmarted mom and dad and got what they wanted.
So often you don’t even need to spank.
The following scenario happened here two nights ago: My toddler was crying with resentment that I wouldn’t let her have watermelon before her hot dog was finished.
I asked, “What’s wrong, did you bite your tongue?”
She frowned at me, and if she were old enough to employ sarcasm, I’m sure she would have.
“No. I don’t want hot dog. I want watermelon!”
“Oh.” I nodded and thoughtfully took a bite of my supper. “That would have been nice. Too bad you whined when I said ‘not yet’. That watermelon is really yummy. Better finish your hot dog and maybe tomorrow you can remember to obey and then you can have some watermelon.”
Of course the lower lip came out. She’s been perfecting “the pout”.
“Smile at Mama and eat.”
You know, she wasn’t thrilled but she didn’t explode because she knew what would happen. (Spanking)
Then last night, watermelon was again on the menu, this time with cheese burgers. She didn’t demand watermelon, she asked nicely, scarfing her hamburger down in the process.
Maybe she prefers hamburgers to hot dogs, or maybe she’s a fast learner.
More of my thoughts on this subject later! Meanwhile, add yours!