One of the most important things that children need to learn as they grow up is that discipline is a part of everyday life. No one is at liberty to do whatever they want and so they need to learn that there will be consequences if the lines are overstepped. This can be difficult for a child to comprehend because their lives are so full of freedom that we often forget they are not tied down by many of the problems we have to deal with as adults. Nevertheless it’s vital that they understand the difference between right and wrong so that they can stay on the right track throughout childhood and into adolescence.
But how do you go about explaining an adult concept like discipline to a child? Here are a few tips for helping them to understand this abstract issue.
Always Tell Them Why They Are Being Disciplined –
A lot of parents will discipline their child without actually explaining why they are doing it. Even at an early age it is important to explain to the child what they have done wrong and why you don’t want them to do it again. Without an explanation of why, your child will continue to repeat the behaviour and be puzzled when they are constantly punished for it. Reinforcing the correct behaviour to them in the future will also help them to build up knowledge of what is acceptable behaviour in certain situations.
Use Routine To Champion Good Behaviour –
We are all creatures of habit and so getting a child into a good routine is a great way to make good behaviour an everyday part of their lives. We all probably still do things today that we learnt when we were little and that we don’t even pay attention to now and this is where discipline has its beginnings. For example, if you make a big deal out of the fact that your child should always take their shoes off at the door, wash their hands after using the toilet or brush their teeth then they will gradually start to do this as second nature. Start with simple things like this and then build up to more complex routines such as going to sleep in their own bed.
Encourage Sporting Activity –
Sport, and in particular team sport, is a great teaching tool for your children to learn the value of right and wrong as well as many other life skills. Right from the start they are taught the laws of the game and they get to find out for themselves what the consequences of breaking these are. They will soon learn that playing within the rules will enhance their enjoyment of the game and that by having good discipline on the field they can achieve a lot more for them and their team. This can then be transferred into other areas of life and you can even start to use sporting analogies to teach them about other forms of discipline.
There Are Two Sides Of The Coin –
Sometimes all it takes to make your children understand the difference between right and wrong is to reward their good behaviour. As parents, we can get so concerned with making them realise that they have done something wrong that we forget to reward them when they do something right. If you are only focussing on their bad behaviour then it is hard for children to understand how they can stop themselves from constantly being told off. By reinforcing their good side you can show them that this is what you prefer; giving them an example of how things should be done. Every good house has a good reward system and so whether you use a sticker chart that’s stuck to the fridge or badges they can earn like a cub scout; the most important thing is that they get to see that their good deeds are rewarded.