The D-Word!!!! Feared by many – misunderstood by most… DISCIPLINE!!
I have heard some phrase it this way – “Discipline is not what you do to a child, but what you do for a child”. As a parent one of the key aspects of child rearing is discipline. We discipline our children for a number of reasons. Discipline teaches our children the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Discipline encourages self-control rather than chaos. Discipline encourages certain characteristics and values which we want our children to internalise.
We have all heard the phrase “Monkey See, Monkey Do”. The same is true for children. Parents discipline children through everyday interactions. There are a number of methods that are more effective than others when it comes to discipline – but I’ll leave that for another blog. As parents, we need to realize that children learn through watching us interact with the world. They often act out what they see us modeling. We then reinforce or discourage these actions as we engage our children.
For example, children learn how to have a voice by watching us voice our opinions and concerns, however they learn to use their voice when we allow them to voice their concerns and opinions. Do we speak and allow our children to speak out in an appropriate or inappropriate way? Children learn how to listen to others when then see and experience us listening, and they learn to listen when we expect them to listen in return. Do we listen with a half ear? Do we help our children focus before we start speaking? Children learn to respect others when they see how we respect others and when they receive respect from us. Children practice respect when we expect respect from them and correct them when they interact with others. Children see, Children do – and parents monitor and correct when necessary.
Before we get caught up with how we discipline – we as parents need to know why we discipline. If everything we do moulds our children for life, then what life do we want for our children? We discipline them so they can learn behaviour, self-control, values and character that will lead them through life successfully. Ask yourself which values you are showing them today through your daily interactions with others and with them. Are you providing opportunities for them to outwork these values through behavioural expectations? Are you guiding them in the right direction when you see their interactions with others? Discipline is about teaching and learning – not just about doing or not doing.
As we live out our lives in front of our children and as we guide them through their daily interactions with ourselves and others, they glean from us and develop the skills and values they need to make their life a success now and in the future. Now that is discipline!