Every parent and teacher struggles with child discipline from time to time. They want to use authority in their approach, but not necessarily be labeled as authoritarian. The keys to the success of using authority without being punitive are in using positive communications, empowering by offering choices, and by prompting reflection. These practices instill the mindset that the objective is to raise responsibility, rather than to punish. I talk about each of these in detail in my books Discipline Without Stress and Parenting Without Stress.
Punishment fosters evasion of responsibility and also has the disadvantage of increasing the distance between parents and children. A far more effective approach than punishment is to treat any situation as a teaching and learning opportunity.
The next time you’re faced with a child discipline situation, elicit from the youngster what her or she can do to ensure that the unacceptable situation will not be repeated. In this way, the young person creates and maintains ownership of the consequence. The implicit message is that a person is responsible for his/her actions and that inappropriate action is being remedied. This approach uses irresponsible behavior as an opportunity for growth.
If an elicited consequence is not appropriate or acceptable given the situation, ask, “What else?” until there is agreement on the consequence. Any consequence should fulfill three requirements:
- The consequence should be related to the incident.
- The consequence should be reasonable.
- The consequence should promote growth.
As with trying anything new, at first you may feel uncomfortable using a new approach. Practice is the key. The more you utilize this methodology, the more effective it’ll be for you and the children in your life.
Teaching, parenting, and simply living can be stressful at times. That’s why I wrote my newest book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. If you’re looking for stress management advice, check it out. The book is available as a print book (Buy one and get a second copy free to give as a gift), as an eBook, and as an audio book at PiperPress.com.