You’re tired of yelling, pleading, screaming and shouting. You know there’s got to be a better way, but trying to discipline your kids has become a battle of wills. Next time, try using these techniques to get your kids to behave.
You can have polite, kind, helpful children without yelling, hitting or spanking. That may not be how you were raised, but it’s never too late to break the cycle. You can start to turn things around by changing your mentality.
Make Sure Everyone Knows the Rules
Avoid half your household fights by setting out clear rules. These rules should also include the consequences for breaking them. You can pin them on a bulletin board or stick them on the fridge.
They should be simple:
- If you break something on purpose, you lose your phone for a full day.
- If you don’t finish your homework or chores, you can’t come out for ice cream.
- If you call someone a bad name, you don’t get any dessert.
Be consistent about following these rules without fail. Apply them fairly to each child without fail. Consistency is the most important part of discipline. If a child knows he will face the consequences, he’s less likely to misbehave.
Which Consequences Work?
Here are some consequences that will make your child think twice about misbehaving.
- Take away phone, computer or TV privileges for a full day.
- Cancel a play date or a planned outing.
- Make him do extra chores or the chore everyone hates.
- Make her stay in her room all day.
Why Is Your Child Acting Up?
Children who act up usually have a reason they’re behaving badly. At a young age, emotions like anger and frustration can be overwhelming. In many children, they set off a rush of adrenaline and a “fight or flight” reaction. A child will react by screaming, crying or throwing things.
Part of correcting their behavior means understanding what’s underlying it. Their reaction may be over the top, but the feelings are real.
Acknowledge Their Feelings While You Correct Their Behavior
Children who act up, fight, throw things or otherwise misbehave usually have powerful emotions they don’t know how to express. They get overwhelmed and don’t know how to handle their anger or sadness the right way.
Take advantage of the opportunity to correct their behavior while empathizing with how they feel. For instance, you can say, “I know your little brother can be annoying. Little brothers can be like that, but it’s wrong to throw your milk at him. We don’t hit people or throw things at them. Now, help me clean up this mess and then go apologize to him.”
Another example is, “I know you’re mad because Linda wouldn’t let you play with her doll, but it’s her doll and she is playing with it now. Maybe you can play with it later or play with one of your own toys.”
Don’t let unacceptable behavior continue. Acknowledging their feelings lets them know you understand why they’re upset. It also lets them know they can’t express their feelings destructively.
Model Good Behavior
Use your own behavior as an example to your child. Try your best to stay calm and reasonable, even in the middle of chaos. Your child will learn from you how to manage his emotions.
Remember, it takes time to institute a new routine with kids. The first few times you use these techniques, you may have to repeat the steps several times before your kids understand you’re not budging from your position. You can expect an angry response the first few times. If you stick to the plan, don’t back down and stay consistent, your kids will come to understand that there’s a new way of doing things.