Because I have still been trying to figure out the whole child discipline issue, I was glad when at parenting seminar at my son’s school, Dr Kinyanjui Ng’ang’a gave some pointers on disciplining children. He is a motivational speaker and coach.
Here are some points I garnered:
- When you say something, say it as if it is the first time. This hits home for all mothers who feel as if they have to sing a song plus it’s chorus to get heard by their kids. Don’t give in to frustration. It may be the 17th time you are repeating an instruction but do it anyway, focusing on the behaviour in question, not the problem with the child’s head or ears.
- Children are in need of attention and affirmation. Listen to them. Affirm them continuously. Switch off the phone and TV and you will be surprised how much your children have to share with you.
- Lower your tone. Whenever you raise your voice you are behaving like a mad person and mad men are not communicators.
- Address the issue at hand. Don’t make issues personal. The issue is why your child has not tidied up his room, not what is wrong with him. Focus on the tidying up.
- Empathise. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Acknowledge what your child is going through. Tell them that you once felt or did the same things they are doing — you played truant in school. You weren’t always number one in your class. Look at your child remembering you once behaved as they are now.
- Look for the good in your child, not the dirt. Don’t be a fault finder. There is no perfect child. If you look for the good you will find it. And if you look for the faults you will find them.
- Correct unwanted behaviour. Children expect you to be and respect you for being principled. Be consistent. Be predictable. When you do not punish bad behaviour yet the child expects it, you are doing them a disservice. From the ages of 0-7, children understand corporal punishment. From age 7-12, withdraw privileges; that’s painful for them. From age 13-19 negotiate with them. Never miss a chance to punish a child when they do wrong. Be consistent.
- Don’t punish at the height of anger and emotion. Don’t use the same hands you use to hug to spank your child.
- Your child should never learn to defy authority. When your child defies authority they are asking who is in charge here? You will be setting them up for problems with rebellion in school and in employment.
- Never threaten your children. Follow through with what you say you will do.
- Praise in public, reprimand in private. Children have self esteem issues just like adults.
- Reward desired behaviour. What you praise flourishes.Don’t reward natural gifts and beauty. Reward effort. Reward accomplishment.
- Keep your word. Don’t promise what you can’t give. A reward must be valued by the recipient. Buy gifts your children can use. Buy what’s important for them.
- Watch your tongue. Whether spoken accidentally or in purpose, the spoken word will accomplish it’s purpose. Speak life into the future of your children. Avoid accidents with your tongue.
- Train your child. Lead in what you do. Great parents inspire. If you invest in your children you do not have to invest for them.
Bonus point: Don’t try to be your child’s friend. Children know how to make their own friends. You are their parent.