In this day and age, it’s hard to manage children without enforcing strict rules in and out of the household. More often than not, parents will find themselves dealing with deviant acts, misbehaviour and possible dishonesty when it comes to children. However, where are you supposed to draw the line? Are conventional methods of punishment like caning and berating them in public effective?
Depending your own preferences, some may believe that sparing the cane is not an option, while others are strongly against physically disciplining children. Here, we break down some of the appropriate consequences when it comes to disciplining strategies.
Effective consequences are separated into two categories – natural and logical. Natural consequences are those that occur as a result of their behaviour, while logical ones are those steps that parents take in order to teach children that their poor behaviour comes with unpleasant side effects. It’s important to communicate to children that they choose these consequences themselves when they choose to misbehave. If they are clear about these consequences, they will learn to avoid them because they are aware of what they will need to face. As parents, remember to stay calm when kids misbehave – this removes the opportunity for us to turn the situation into a huge argument or power struggle, and usually shocks the children. The seriousness of the issue impacts them better, which allows them to reflect on their own actions.
Here are some possible consequences for children by age:
Infants don’t need punishments, but you might want to shape their behaviour by changing the tone in your voice, which is something they are sensitive to. For example, if you want them to stop throwing toys in the direction of other people or trying to snatch something out of your hands, try a stricter tone of voice or perhaps distract them with another toy.
As they start to learn more behaviours, toddlers may act out in a stronger manner even if you use the methods mentioned above. Introduce time outs. Time outs don’t need to be very long, and the trick is to make sure that you ignore them completely during that time. Once they are uncomfortable with the situation, they will realise their mistake and apologise.
As they grow older, you can expand on the methods used when they are younger. Take away more privileges like no play time or no screen time since they should be more mature and understand what is good and bad behaviour now. However, they are still at a young age, so choose consequences that are immediate, as they won’t be motivated by things or events that are happening days away.
Primary School Children
Now that they are in school, they may be easily influenced by their peers. Similar to the methods listed above, take away more serious obligations like a play date that was planned on the weekend or an outing to the amusement park that was planned for the holidays.
Preteens will place a high importance on their social status. It’s important to apply consequences that matter to them, for example, the confiscation of their mobile phones or time with their friends.
Take the most relevant privilege away when it comes to teenagers – it will be common to find them breaking a few rules at a time. If things get out of hand, try writing down a contract and listing down the various consequences they have to face in the relevant situations so that they keep them in mind.
Maintaining Positive Reinforcement
Despite enforcing rules with the consequences set, use positive reinforcement to let your child know that you want to celebrate their positive behaviours day after day. Let them know that you acknowledge them when they are doing right and believe that they seek your approval. Remember, the key to maintaining a positive relationship is to always communicate with one another clearly!