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Title: The ABC's of Child Discipline

Category: Positive Parenting


     Disciplining children can be as easy as "ABC".  "A":  Always be fair, appropriate, and consistent. "B": Try to discipline with love and teach your child each time you discipline them.  "C": Follow through when you set limits and make those limits clear.

  "A": Fairness and Consistency.  Ideally, parents discipline when children cross that magic line and get into mischief which parents have clearly taught them they should not do.  If parents are both consistent in enforcing this discipline and let the child know that arguing is a waste of time, they will soon become effective disciplinarians.  The best form of disciplining children in my opinion is "time outs" in which they are placed in their room or a corner but never in a scary place. "Time out" should be appropriate for their age and about one minute per year is appropriate.  For a very strong-willed child you may have to put them in their room or in a corner several times in a row but they will soon get the message that you mean business and accept the limits which you have set.  Be fair and consistent and it will work.

"B": Discipline with Love.  When we discipline our child it is truly showing them that we love and care for them enough to want to teach them right from wrong.  Children who grow up in homes in which there is no discipline and are allowed to do anything, they feel unloved.  Many runaways attest to this parenting practice and are frequently as bad off as children who ran away from overly strict and unreasonably harsh and abusing parents.  Sometimes disciplining our children hurts us more than it hurts them.  Afterwards it is wise to grab your child up in your arms and hug them and just let them know how much you truly love them and how precious they are to you.  A child growing up in this type home will not have any bad memories about being disciplined and will know that the lessons that they learned growing up were shared lovingly and appropriately by their parents.

  "C": Set Firm Clear Cut Limits and Stick by Them.  A child who grows up in a home with very clear cut limits and appropriate discipline is a secure child.  If we say we are going to do something and never follow through, our children will take advantage of our weakness and inconsistency.  An example might be a child who pitches a fit every time Mom goes grocery shopping or Dad brings them to McDonald's.  They scream and demand exactly what they want until they ultimately get it, despite the parent saying over and over, no, you can't have it but finally "giving in".  They learn that they are in control and not the parent.

     As parents we truly must be the boss and particularly for young children we must set very clear cut limits and stand by them for the good of our child.

     Discipline needs to be tailored for each individual child.  To quote St. Paul in I Thessalonians, 5:14, "and we urge you brothers, warn those who are idle and encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone".  In other words, every child will require a unique balance of discipline tempered with love, patience, encouragement and different degrees of strictness.  The key word is patience.