What's your discipline style?
Learn about the basic discipline philosophies, and find out which is best for your child.
Similarities in discipline theories
Although the discipline field is vast, many of the most popular discipline books address similar themes. Here are some of the big ones:
1. Aim for the middle ground between being too punitive and too permissive.
2. Don't use physical punishments like spanking and slapping.
3. Don't use psychological punishments such as name-calling and insults.
4. When you or your child spiral out of control, take time to cool off.
5. Offer choices.
6. Learn how to manage your own anger.
7. Provide encouragement and positive feedback.
8. Let your child experience consequences to behavior.
9. Don't hold grudges. Once the behavior has been dealt with, give your child a clean slate.
By Evonne Lack
Discipline is one of the toughest challenges of parenthood. It can frustrate, discourage, and humble you. When faced with the challenges of getting your toddler, preschooler, or big kid to behave, you may look back on the gritty baby months with utter nostalgia and wonder why you ever thought feeding and sleeping dilemmas were so tough.
The right expert advice can be instructive and reassuring. It's just a matter of finding a philosophy that fits your personal style. But how do you choose when the discipline field appears to be one big, messy mishmash of information?
You'll be relieved to know that you don't have to pick just one discipline style. You may like certain aspects of several different discipline styles. It's okay to select the things you like and leave the rest.
Also, it's important to pay attention to how you feel when you read about a particular style. For example, Brooklyn mom Popi Pustilnik says, "One book made me feel like such a failure that I threw it across the room." She then turned to a book with a completely different approach and felt much more hopeful. "It was a much better fit for me," she says.
Start by learning about a few of the major "categories" of discipline philosophies. Once you get a handle on these, it will be easier to choose books that are a good fit for you.
Where the discipline theories differ
One expert suggests that time-outs last a minute for each year of your child's age, while another says your child should decide how long the time-out lasts. One book instructs you to firmly tell your child, "No hitting," and another book cautions against using negative words like "no" and "don't." One author promotes the use of rewards, whereas another says rewards are nothing more than bribes.
The wide variety of advice can be frustrating and confusing, but it also proves that there's no one right way to discipline. You are the true expert on what works for you and for your children. While professional advice is helpful, it needs to match your own intuition and ideals.