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How To Choose the Most Effective Discipline

Your job as a parent is to do your best to socialize your children and to help them grow up into decent, responsible and successful adults. I emphasize that you must “do your best.” That is not the same thing as a guaranteed result. No matter how good a parent you are, your children are persons with their own minds and wills. Ultimately they will make their own decisions about how what they will do with their lives. In other words, I hope you will do your best, but I don’t want you to feel like you are totally responsible for how your children turn out.

You cannot effectively discipline your children without first laying a foundation of love and nurture. That is absolutely basic. Your children must know that you really care for them and that the discipline you administer is designed for their welfare. And the way they know that is not so much that you say you love them, although that is important, but whether you truly respect them and delight in their presence in your home.

Before we look at some of the different strategies available for discipline, we must be clear that discipline, although it might include punishment, is not the same thing as punishment. The word discipline is derived from the Latin word disciplina, which means teaching or learning. In reference to child rearing discipline means, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” of your child (Webster’s Dictionary).

A number of strategies are available for you on the discipline menu. It should be obvious that the discipline you choose depends upon the specific child and the specific training that the child needs at the time. Here is a list of basic strategies.
• Modeling: behaving like you want your child to behave
• Talking: chatting, explaining, scolding, and complimenting
• Acting: time-outs, spanking (under very limited conditions), and removing or adding privileges

In subsequent blogs I will explain the variety of uses for all of these disciplinary strategies.