One of the toughest parts of parenting and caregiving is discipline. Children need structure and correction at times, and it is often very difficult to know exactly what approach will be healthy and help them change the undesired behavior. A child acquires compliance, self-regulation and morality through a complex process that depends very much on the interaction between caregiver and child. Therefore, finding the right way to discipline can be difficult, and even when something may be working, things may change so that it no longer does.
Principles to encourage self-regulation in children
Discipline is such a significant issue that I thought I would address it in this next series of posts, so please stay tuned to learn about these valuable and helpful tips.
We will begin by listing the general principles for enhancing the capacity for a child to self-regulate:
Principle 1: Set up a warm, reciprocal, and responsive caregiving environment within which limits and standards are firmly enforced, so that the child wants to be cooperative with most of the requests made.
Principle 2: Be clear about who is in charge. Do not try to be an equal and a friend to the child in your care.
Principle 3: Present a united front with other caregivers. Keep channels of communication open so any differences can be identified and discussed.
Principle 4: Draw up a list of absolute, non-negotiable rules and standards that the child must adhere to. Communicate them clearly to the child and be consistent in enforcing them.
Principle 5: Explain the reasons for certain behaviors that are expected and requested.
Principle 6: Decide on areas in which there can be some flexibility, and let the child express his/her point of view around those issues.
Principle 7: Avoid discipline struggles whenever possible.
Principle 8: Make sure that good behavior is noticed and acknowledged.
Principle 9: Select consequences for not complying with rules, and let the child know ahead of time what they will be.
Principle 10: Use problem-solving strategies to find solutions to discipline difficulties.
These are some excellent principles to help children become clear on their boundaries and structure. We will take some time to discuss each one of them as we continue this valuable discussion.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Information taken from Pathways to Competence, Sarah Landy, p. 401.