Child Discipline & Punishment

Child Discipline :  Child Discipline & Punishment :-  Although sometimes used interchangeably, punishment and discipline do not have the same meaning and do not serve the same purpose having most characteristics in direct contrast to one another.

Discipline vs. Punishment
Discipline     Punishment
Emphasizes what a child should do     Emphasizes what a child should not do
Is an ongoing process     Is a one time occurrence
Sets an example to follow     Insists on obedience
Leads to self control     Undermines independence
Helps children change     Is an adult release
Is positive     Is negative
Accepts child’s need to assert self     Makes children behave
Fosters child’s ability to think     Thinks for child
Bolsters self-esteem     Defeats self-esteem
Shapes behavior     Condemns misbehavior

It takes time and consistency, but through the following seven steps we can guide children’s behavior and help them learn to resolve problems in ways that allow them to feel responsible and empowered bringing, strong, fair and skilled problem solvers to our community.

1. Stop the action- interrupt behavior.

“Stop, that isn’t safe. I know you are angry but you may not hit her.”

2. State what you see.

“I see you both want the fire truck. We only have one fire truck and two children. Is that what’s happening?”

3. Listen to their explanation.

Actively hear their issue and interpretation in a non judgmental way.

4. Identify the problem and validate feelings.

“You are sad when the fire truck is grabbed from you. You are sad he has the truck.”

5. Brainstorm solutions

Allow children to come up with as many ideas as possible. “What can we do about this?” They will feel empowered when not afraid of consequences from adults.

6. Listen to all suggestions (all valid ideas)

“Bobby wants to take turns. He would like the first turn. Is this okay?” Continue until outcome is agreed upon. When they are out of ideas, offer some options. Toddlers need to be offered some realistic choices, they are not able to brainstorm yet. Sometimes a solution cannot be agreed upon and they get tired of negotiating. ” I see you are really tired of talking about this but we need to solve this problem.” Angrily: “He can have it!!!” “So you choose to do something else?” “So Bobby can have the fire truck while you——?”

7. Summarize

Repeat when solution is agreed upon. “Okay I see you have decided to paint and you have decided to play with the fire truck.” They give final approval. Support the child walking away so as not to feel beaten down or victimized by giving in. Empower that child for the choice in helping to resolve the conflict.

Finally, use as few words as possible. We must not explain until their eyes glaze over. Keep it age appropriate and non-judgmental. If a child is out of control he or she may need to be removed from the scene. Sometimes redirection or distraction (“Let’s go read a story and we can try again later”) may be the best solution. If the consequences are to find another place to play, see that they are successful in getting involved. Follow through so that there isn’t a spiral of misbehavior. We must have expectations not demands. Be a role model, expressing anger appropriately. (“I am really angry with you when—–“) Hate is a very destructive word and often children mean something else. Give them vocabulary choices by defining their feelings. (“You are really angry with me. While we are angry we may not hurt each other.”) If a child does not agree with your rewording of their feelings most often they will correct you. If we keep practicing these skills with the children they will start to make smart choices, be confident and empowered in their own decisions.