Being a father to 3 five-year old (cough* monsters *cough) children, I would say that I deal with discipline regularly. Like - every 2 hours or rather, 2 minutes. I am not an expert and would not trust anyone who thinks they are. We are all learning through this parenting thing. But, there is a very thin line when disciplining children. Too much and I risk the guilt that comes with my child crying for hours, too little and I risk raising a child that has no respect for adults or others.
In the past (sociologically), there is the working father and stay-at-home mother and generally the father’s role was to deal out the discipline. How many times have I heard “Just wait till your father gets home!” growing up.
Here are some of the key elements I remember when disciplining and what I have learned in my short but fast 5 years of parenting:
Be In Control: Keep your emotions under control! Children are extremely good at testing patience and limits. Maintain a calm demeanor and try not to use a raised voice, it will only escalate the situation. Secondly, and what I believe to be the most important, Chelsea and I agree on our disciplinary stance and NEVER contradict one another in front of the kids.
Let the Punishment Fit the Crime: Don’t give over exaggerated discipline. Telling the child that if they don’t listen that they will never get dessert, is just not physically possible to enforce. This also weakens the authoritative position with older children - they know it is impossible to deliver the disciplinary promise.
Physical Punishment: I’m pretty sure I thought that Home Depot carried spanking paddles growing up. I know now, they are actually paint stirrers. I have mixed feelings on physical punishment. When I became a new father I thought for certain corporal punishment was the way to go. I have since changed my outlook. Spanking a child resulted in an ineffective swat on a mushy diaper, causing the child to giggle, which in turn ends in frustration. Something to also be careful of is what that teaches the child “you resolve conflict with physical force”. Doesn’t particularly set a fine example for problem solving.
Mental Punishment: “I gave up so much for you and you can’t even do XYZ!” Children are exactly that, A CHILD! Taking out regrets or personal frustrations on them is absolutely not acceptable. Also - all children are unique people, even siblings. I have identical twins, but they could not be more opposite when it comes to their personalities. Do not compare one child to another. They all have strengths and challenges and the idea is to have them work together. Cooperatively.
Most importantly, my job is to be a teacher. Provide an environment for learning within safe boundaries. Not judge, jury, or executioner.
authored by Trent Crutcher