For many people, discipline is tough. And often, people seek out discipline help because they feel helpless in a situation—as if they have no choice in the discipline situation. (The youngster did this, which means I must react this way.) But the fact is that you always have a choice as to how you respond when a youngster makes a mistake or does something wrong. Choice makes discipline much easier.
Here are your choices: You can focus on the PAST, as in, “You should have been more careful!” Or you can focus on the FUTURE, as in, “Next time, what can we do so that your milk will not spill?” (Notice the use of the collaborative “we,” rather than “you.”)
Realize that nobody can undo the past.
If you talk about what a person did wrong—what should have been done—the youngster will only resent it (AND the adult) because it cannot be undone. Focusing on the past will result in criticizing, blaming complaining, threatening, or punishing. Any of these will result in stress and negative feelings on the part of all involved.
You will promote responsible behavior so much more effectively if you communicate in terms of, “So let’s talk about what has been learned and how to do it better next time.”
When you do, you will immediately become a coach instead of a critic, and discipline will become a much less stressful situation.