Often, we equate the term “discipline” with punishment. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplina,” which means “teaching, learning.” In other words, discipline teaches a child to follow rules. That’s the key to correcting our kids’ behaviours – giving them the tools they need to learn a better behaviour.

When we discipline in a way meant only to punish and have the child “pay” for their mistake, it doesn’t help our child learn how to make the right choice next time. No one likes being ordered around – punishment can lead to power struggles, and because our kids know this poor behaviour gets them attention, they’ll keep doing it.

Effective discipline uses many different tools, like positive reinforcement, modelling, and a loving and supportive family. It sounds so straightforward, yet every parent becomes frustrated at one time or another with issues surrounding children and discipline.

  • An authoritative parent has clear expectations and consequences and is affectionate toward his/her child. The authoritative parent allows for flexibility and collaborative problem solving with the child when dealing with behavioural challenges. This is the most effective form of parenting.
  • An authoritarian parent has clear expectations and consequences, but shows little affection toward his/her child. The parent may say things like, "because I'm the Mummy, that's why." This is a less effective form of parenting.
  • A permissive parent shows lots of affection toward his/her child but provides little discipline. This is a less effective form of parenting.

Guide your discipline techniques to fit well with your child's temperament. The key to effective discipline is to understand who your child is, especially his/her temperamental style, and use your discipline to help achieve his/her potential given those talents and tendencies. But your goal should not be to turn him/her into someone he/she is not (for example, to turn a boisterous intense child into a mellow laid-back one).

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