What makes a good parent? It’s easy for parents to be set in certain ways when it comes to discipline. But what makes a good parent when it comes to discipline? It means being able to adjust discipline methods based on the developmental age of your child.
How to Discipline Your Child Based on their Developmental Age
Discipline is based on what your child is capable of or not capable of, and should change as your child grows up. A lot of parents choose to discipline their children in a certain way, without realizing it doesn’t make sense for a child that is a specific age.
Before Middle School
In general, it’s best to use concrete things with children who are in the pre-reasoning stage because they can’t reason through problems yet.
To ask questions and work with them through problems doesn’t make any sense yet.
Instead, try taking things away and taking away privileges. They may have a bit of a tantrum, that’s normal, you can distract them and move it along.
Do not drag the punishment out for days. This is like dragging your child’s nose into a mistake for days. You don’t have to drag a punishment on for it to be effective.
It’s important to have a good sense of time. We’re not holding on to the past and there’s no point in making your child do this. Move on the next day.
I would like to emphasize that corporal punishment is never a good idea. It’s very hard for a child to handle this type of disruption. Think about someone putting hands on you, it will throw you off, and you’re an adult; now imagine a child going through that. This is not effective and there are other ways to discipline.
Middle School and Up
As a child gets into middle school, they start being able to reason. You’ll want to take advantage of this and help their reasoning develop. In this developmental stage, taking things away doesn’t make sense. No one is going to take things away from them as punishment when they’re an adult. Therefore, this type of discipline does not work for middle school and up.
At this age, we want to start giving our children choices.
For example, if your child tells you another child has been mean to him/her, ask questions to help him figure out the options. Such as, what are you going to do about it?
It’s okay to step in and encourage something different if your child is choosing something dangerous or illegal. Such as, If your child wants to punch the other kid, encourage a different route.
If your child says “I don’t know,” offer up three choices he can handle, and talk about each choice with your child. By doing this, it’ll show your child the choices adults have to make every day. By practicing this with your child, you are bringing them into your thought processes and showing them how to do it on their own.
Options you can offer up:
- Go talk to your teacher
- Go talk to the student
- I can go with you to talk to the teacher.
If your child thinks about it and still does not know, choose for them. Choose the option with you involved because clearly your child is not at the level of development to handle this type of conflict, just yet. By going with your child, you can show them how to handle this type of situation. Do this until they start deciding for themselves.
Once they decide on their own, let them follow through on their plan.
Reminder: The goal of parenting is not to have a perfect child or an always happy child. This is not what makes a good parent.
To save your child from any form of pain is not the goal. Some parents somehow think this is going to make them a hero in their child’s eyes, and therefore the kid is going to be in love with them more. That’s not how it works.
Pain is a great motivating factor. Pain motivates them to make a change. If they’re comfortable, why change? You want them to sit in their discomfort long enough to come up with a solution. Then, you want them to try out the different solutions. Oftentimes, they will come up with a solution that is not a good idea. Let them try it out! You want to avoid telling them not to do it and let them make the bad decision, so they can see what happens.
*Unless it is dangerous or illegal.
A quick example from my personal life.
When my son was in 7th grade, he wanted to watch TV on a school night but he had an informational pamphlet due at school the next day and he had to finish homework before he could have TV time. He rushed through his homework, completing the pictures with pencil drawings. When I saw his work, I asked him if that was all he had to do. He said yes, that’s it, it’s fine. The next day at school he came home so upset because the teacher made the students go in front of the class to present the pamphlet. Going forward, all I had to do was ask him, “Is that something that is going to be presented or displayed?” His homework was beautiful after that.
Had I stepped in, and said that’s not right:
A. I might be wrong.
B. It wouldn’t stick with him, like the lesson of learning on his own did.
No involvement, no commitment. If they’re not involved in the pain of it then it’s not going to stick with them.
Your job is to get involved less and less as they get older. You become more of a safety net for bad or dangerous ideas.
This is what makes a good parent when it comes to discipline. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out by phone or text at 757-340-8800. Or go to WWW.DRLDABNEY.COM.
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