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Discipline without Damage


Human nature being what it is, we know children will push against the boundaries that are set for them.  They want to know what the consequences are.  They want to know what they can get away with.  We need to correct them to teach them that rules are to be respected.  But we also want to encourage them to try again, and not feel rejected when they are disciplined.


Here are some guidelines for correcting children with minimal damage:


Set up the rules beforehand, and make them as reasonable as possible.  Try to set limits that are age-appropriate.  A three-year-old may not be able to control his behavior as well as his five-year-old brother.  Be sure your child is stepping over the line purposely, not just accidentally irritating you.  When a punishment catches a child by surprise, he will feel hurt rather than caught.  The punishment will result in confusion and anger rather than remorse.

Give a warning, but be ready to follow up with action.  Be prepared with consequences.  Remain calm and confident.  Children will learn to trust a parent who means what he says.  It is not necessary to verbally shame a child, or have an emotional outburst toward your child.  Your actions speak louder than your words.

There is no need to publicly humiliate a child for disobedience.  If you can, walk your child to his room, or to a private place to make your message clear.  If more than one child is involved, take both, and listen to both sides.  If you are not sure who is at fault, ask your children what to do.  When given the chance to be the judge, children will surprise you with how fair and honest they can be.


A parent may sometimes need to withdraw their physical presence or stop paying attention to a disobedient child in order to show them their behavior is unacceptable, but as soon as the punishment is over, there is no need to continue to withdraw or hold a grudge against your child.  All children disobey at times, and all parents make mistakes in dealing with them.  Keep loving them, and forgiving them, and the relationship between parent and child will eventually be one of mutual respect.


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