Education Network Journal - Vol 1, 1998

Discipline In Parenting

By Karen L. Procelli

About The Author:

Karen L. Procelli has taught children with varying degrees of learning, mental and emotional disabilities. Originally from Long Island, New York, she now resides in Wellington, Florida, with her husband and two daughters. She has been teaching in the Palm Beach County School District for ten years, specializing in the emotionally handicapped population. Karen is proud to be an advocate for her students and takes pride in her structured program. She achieves a high degree of discipline from her students within a loving environment.

Parents, take a few moments to honestly reflect on your relationship with your child. Are you the parent? Or, are you allowing your child to parent YOU? Relating to our children today is extremely complex. Our good intentions sometimes cloud our vision so we are unable to discipline appropriately. What is appropriately? That is best to be answered by you. However, we should mark appropriately somewhere in the center of the extremes of being too severe, or, too lenient. I like to think of appropriate discipline as being FAIR, FIRM and CONSISTENT.

Being fair is sometimes difficult, especially when your own emotions are bubbling over from the situation at hand. Nevertheless, remember you are the adult, not the child. You must try to be impartial and give your child a chance to gain recognition in a positive way. Do not back your child into a corner. Weigh all factors and try to discipline fairly and once again appropriately. Is it fair to ground your teenager for a month if he/she does not comply with keeping a neat room? Be realistic and prioritize what is really a problem and what is a very real irritation. Consequent the real problems and try other creative parenting skills to work on the less severe issues. Notice, I did not say, "less annoying issues". A messy bedroom can certainly aggravate a parent, however, think of the fairness of your consequence, as well as the effectiveness. A consequence needs to be immediate. Retracting another privilege, such as the phone, until the room is cleaned is fair and immediate and no doubt you will see results. Every child responds to something! It is your job, as the parent, to find out what that something is.

What is important in a child's life usually works well as the motivator for rewards or consequences. Focus heavily on rewards whenever you catch good behavior. It is by far easier and more pleasurable than the consequences. Simple recognition and words of praise are the positive rewards that children thrive on at all ages. In your ongoing efforts to maintain fairness recognize that we all have behaviors to improve. It is unfair to expect perfection since we all make mistakes. The idea is to learn from those mistakes and to strive towards being the best you can be.

Being firm does not mean you have to have a shouting match. The most mild-mannered, controlled individuals have the ability to demonstrate firmness in their actions. Firm simply means that you are the adult and you have spoken. Use your voice to your advantage. Never try to talk over your child. Wait until you have full attention. Project your voice, but keep it calm. You and your child should discuss what transpired, however, you must hold firm in what you state. Never threaten your child. Let it be known exactly where you stand and then act on it. Always follow through with what you tell your child. In your firmness be sure to reinforce your love by rejecting the child's behavior, but never the child. It is important not to tear down any individual's self-worth. Do not ridicule your child, but rather teach. Firmness means no deals. Making deals to gain control is inevitably ineffective. Children should not govern themselves. Allow them ample opportunity to make decisions, however, step in with a firm decision when the situation calls for action. Do not be afraid to stand your ground- to parent. Your child will respect you for this.

If behavior is considered unacceptable one day this same behavior must be unacceptable everyday. If you allow your child to use profanity in your home, don't consequent him/her for using it in school. What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong across the board. This eliminates mounds of confusion. There are days when we are more, or less, tolerant than others. Of course we are only human and we do waver. Try not to impose your adult mood swings on your child. That brings you back to FAIRNESS!

Parenting is a skill that needs nurturing. There are numerous magazines, books, parent-related organizations, and school or community support groups that are available. Parenting can be exhausting; however, it is the most gratifying of roles you will ever experience in your lifetime. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride!  


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