Have you ever wondered what your child would be like if he was never disciplined or, more specifically, never punished? Dad of 3 kids and writer for Babble Sierge Belanko does.
To quote him, he “has never, ever punished” his eldest son, 4-year-old Henry. “Never sent him to his room without supper or took away his favorite stuffed animal,” he wrote on Babble. And the consequences of his actions -- or inaction -- are as bad as you imagined.
He recounts how his son pretends to not listen to him anymore, naming the time he asked him to dress up for school and how his pleas fell on deaf ears. Instead of obeying, his son continued to watch TV as if his dad was nothing more than a piece of furniture.
So how did he get to this point?
He admits to being a friend first and being a father second to Henry. He knows it’s his primary duty to raise his son and not be Henry’s best buddy but since his separation with his wife, things started falling apart, he said.
He admits to being lazy, drunk on love and too exhausted and perplexed to discipline his son after the divorce. “Like most 4-year-olds, my boy is a bright, beautiful kid. Fifty times a day I fall harder in love with him than yesterday and that’s probably an honest understatement,” he wrote.
Going by on Belanko’s story, it seems he fits into the third of three types of parents, labeled as The Permissive Parent, as described by The American Health Association. Listed below are all three:
1. The authoritative parent This type of parent knows what he expects of his child and is affectionate towards him. He sets down rules but is flexible and collaborative with his child when dealing with behavioral challenges.
2. The authoritarian parent This type of parent knows what he expects of his child but shows little affection. This parent may be heard using phrases like “because I said so.”
3. The permissive parent This type of parent is affectionate towards his child but does little disciplining. This is the category Belanko falls under.
The middle ground between the second and third type is, of course, the first one where there is an effort to strike a balance. The American Health Association also labels this as the most effective form of parenting.
Disciplining a child is most effective when a desired outcome or learning is reached because a child was able to understand, even on some level, the significance of his actions. There should be no because-I-said-so’s. Clear and concise communication, using words that take the child’s age into consideration, is crucial for discipline to be effective.
Aside from this, take into consideration these 10 tips for the effective use of discipline techniques and punishments:
1. Be consistent. There should be uniform rules, rewards and punishments. Everyone in the household should be familiar with them. Make sure that your child is well aware of the rules as well. If a rule is broken, follow through with the expected consequences.
2. Be understanding. Talk to your child but listen as well. Be aware of his needs and change your disciplining techniques accordingly. Lying for example, is expected of children around the age of 2 and 5. At this age, children interchange fantasy and reality. Lying calls for disciplining however when your child uses it to cover up misbehavior.
3. Mix and match disciplining techniques. If time-outs have stopped working for your child, then leave it. Try another disciplining technique. Sort between ones that work and ones that don’t work on your child. You can take away toys, limit play time, give rewards for good behavior, etc.
4. Discipline at once. Address the problem as soon as it comes up. Consequences should also come right after the misbehavior, especially for kids under 6 years old. They may not be able to link a misbehavior in the morning with a punishment that’s carried out at night (like no TV time).
5. Don’t use time-out as a threat. Time-outs are meant to be used as a cooling off period. It’s a consequence for when a child loses control -- yelling, throwing tantrums and becoming aggressive, etc. It’s not meant as a punishment but a way to change a child’s mood and disposition. The general rule for time-outs that experts use is one minute for every year of a child’s age.
6. Acknowledge good behavior. Acknowledge good behavior as a way of rewarding your child. Tell him how you noticed that he used “please” and “thank you” this time, instead of just grabbing things from his friends. You can also try giving him extra play time when he cleans up his toys.
7. Don’t discipline when you’re angry. Normally, you should discipline immediately. Don’t, however, if you’re angry or mad. Take a few moments to compose yourself and clear your head. Being angry at your child will only hurt him. It will also remove the focus from his misbehavior and point it at your emotions.
8. Never humiliate. Before going out, you should have already explained to your child the behavior you expect of him. If he goes against it, don’t yell at him or spank him in public. Instead, recognize his misbehavior and either take away a privilege (“No more ice cream”) or if you can’t respond on the spot, say that it will be dealt with at home.
9. Talking back may not be misbehavior at all. It’s difficult to know if your child is being snarky or genuinely trying to talk to you when you’re immediately on the defensive. Don’t be quick to reprimand your child for talking back. Listen first.
10. Be a good role model. Children are big mimickers. If you want to stop your child from having temper tantrums, don’t have temper tantrums yourself! Don’t lash out at your child, at your spouse or anybody else. Eat your vegetables if you want your child to eat his vegetables.
11. Know why your child is misbehaving. There is a reason for your child’s misbehavior. He is not misbehaving or being naughty just to spite you. He might not even realize that he’s misbehaving at all! If you understand your child’s actions, you will be able to respond better.
Sources: Jan. 8, 2016. I've Never Punished My Child, And Now I'm Paying For It". babble.com Dec 13, 2015. "Parents, Kids, and Discipline". webmd.com Feb. 10, 2014. "Parenting Quiz: Discipline Dos and Don’ts". webmd.com Undated. "Seven Tips for Practicing Positive Discipline". pbs.org