Discipline can be a touchy subject among moms. And while all moms have experienced the good, the bad and the terrible when it comes to their children’s behavior, every mother has her own tactics for how to discipline her children. Unfortunately, the inevitable tantrum at (insert public establishment here) or the awful morning meltdown that can make even the earliest risers late for school and work is the dread of mothers everywhere. And, as your child is screaming at the top of her lungs in the check-out line, you become the mom who silently judges the behavior of someone else’s children and ponders, “How did she get so lucky to have such well-behaved children?”
Well, I’m here to report that good behavior isn’t a result of luck or magic of any kind and certainly doesn’t come easily. Trust me, those “lucky” moms have experienced their fair share of frustration while remaining steadfast with the behavioral expectations that they set forth for their children from a very early age. While no method of discipline is f00l-proof, these common sense strategies surely help to maintain the peace between parent and child.
1. Set realistic expectations– If good behavior is what you desire from your children, expect it ALL THE TIME. If you expect them to sit at a table and eat a meal whether at home or in a restaurant they will learn that this is what is expected of them and each new experience won’t come with a learning curve for new behavior. Be realistic when setting expectations, and don’t expect your child to accomplish the impossible. Even the most well behaved young children wouldn’t make it peacefully through a five-course meal.
2. Be consistent– The rules that are set forth by parents should be the same all the time and with both parenting partners. When certain actions or behaviors are permitted by one parent but not the other, kids get mixed signals about what is allowed and what isn’t.
3. Don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping– “If you don’t stop fighting with your brother we aren’t going on vacation” is a promise you have NO intention of keeping! For both reward and punishment, if you make a promise always follow through. This teaches your children important lessons in reward and consequence, life skills adults are subject to everyday. When your kids have prize-winning behavior then by all means, reward them accordingly.
4. Avoid empty tummies– I’m pretty sure who ever coined the term “hangry” must have been a mother. Hell have no wrath like a toddler who hasn’t eaten in several hours. Keep snacks on hand and don’t rely on your body clock to remind you when your kids are hungry. Adults have much better coping skills to deal with hunger and won’t end up in total meltdown mode until someone provides them with a snack.
5. Ensure adequate rest– Kids, especially young children require more sleep than adults, so to avoid an all out case of the crankies make sure your little ones are getting enough sleep. Even if your kids don’t nap, set aside a time for them to have a quiet rest period to recharge their batteries.
6. Maintain a routine– Sure, this is impossible to do all the time, but making an attempt to keep daily events like meals, naps and bed time allows your children to have a consistent schedule resulting in fewer meltdowns because they are familiar with what the day will bring.
7. Establish mutual respect– Even though parents are authority figures to their children, respecting that children have ideas, opinions and feelings is so very important. Practice what you preach and be a model of the “treat others as you wish to be treated” motto. You might be surprised at the respect you get in return.
While, I am by no means a perfect parent, these techniques have set a solid foundation for my daughter to understand, respect, and model good behavior most of the time. Try them with your children and you could be that “lucky” mom too!