Updated: May 20
What is discipline?
Discipline can be defined as the “practice of training your children to obey family, school and societal rules and to behave appropriately using consistent consequence to demonstrate cause and effect”. Basically that the point of discipline is to equip your children with the necessary skills to handle real world problems, and essentially discipline is about training your children to be adults.
What influences discipline?
Discipline is influenced by a number of factors and it is important to be aware of these. Firstly we have numerous personal, or internal factors that will influence our approach to discipline, these include; our own upbringing, values, morals and beliefs, insecurities and personal issues to name a few. Some possible external or societal factors could include; our partner, work, stress, media, popular psychology and even celebrities. It is crucial to be aware of what factors are playing a role for you and your partner so that these factors can be addressed so as to not negatively impact your discipline within your home.
Good vs Bad discipline?
One of the most crucial components of effective discipline is the underlying purpose of the discipline. Is the discipline designed to control your child so that they behave the way that you want them to, or is the discipline a means of training your children, equipping them with the skills to handle real life?
The "Discipline Audit"
A great starting point to revamp the discipline at home is to analyse the current discipline at home, taking into account who is in control, the parental relationship, what’s working and what’s not working, your children’s ages, family values and beliefs, how do you want your children to behave and your children’s personalities and your own. Having a good understanding of what you are basing your discipline on and the motivation for it will give you a good idea of what needs to be done.
Be aware of the power play that exists within the home. Who is in control? Who dictates what happens, when and how? Taking back the control as the parent in the home will be the key to having a successful discipline plan. The power battles within the home can often be influenced by personalities and and the dynamics between the various individuals at home.
The way forward
As you prepare your foundations of discipline, it is always important to keep in mind what your motivation behind the discipline structures are. Why these boundaries, rules and expectations are important will help you remain focused on achieving your end goal. Here are some points to keep in mind:
Who the rules are actually benefiting
Be aware of personality and temperament differences
Emotions interfere in the process focus on regulating your own emotion to
remain in control
Stick to the basics keep it simple, and avoid ambiguous rule or expectations
Ensure there is clarity for everyone
Appropriate consequences are absolutely essential keep these clear and
Write it down - keep this all in black and white and have it stuck up some where in the house for easy reference
When you are ready to implement the new revised discipline structures at home, it is important that you ensure the following forms part of your roll out:
A family discussion should be the starting point of of discussing the changes, motivation and a chance to engage in a conversation about it all.
Ensure that there is an understanding that there are some blanket rules / expectations that apply to the whole family (even mom and dad).
Allow some negation for older children (preferably adolescents) Let them feel a part of the process by allowing them to negotiate down on one or two points only.
Discuss that different ages mean that some variations in the rules and expectations apply, but underneath it all you are all following the same set of value.
Be very clear on the consequences who, what, how and when so there is no question about it, and there is an understanding from all.
A the end of the day there is an important reason as to why you are making these changes. You are preparing your child for life and as such, and so keep the following in mind:
● Why am I disciplining my child? ● Don't react emotionally self regulate and follow the plan ● Be a model of the behaviour you want to see in your children
Having a clear plan and understanding of how you will implement and reinforce the discipline for all your children across their various environments will help you through the challenges of parenthood. Discipline should always be a team effort that includes all members of the family. At the end of the day, it is your children who are the focus and should remain the motivation for pushing through the difficult times.