Effective DisciplineAs Candice sat in my office, she described her four-year-old son, Joey as a “holy terror.”  Like so many parents I meet with, Candice wanted to learn effective discipline techniques for her children.  More importantly, she wanted to guide her children without stress, punishment, or raising her voice!

I know that learning how to guide children without stress, punishment or raising your voice may sound crazy to you, but it is much easier than you think.  Here are three quick and effective discipline techniques for your children:

Calm your emotions

Children learn to manage their emotions by watching others.  So, model what you want them to learn as you teach children self-discipline.

For starters, avoid taking action when you’re upset.  If you are upset and can’t seem to find your love for your child, then ask yourself a simple question. What would a great parent do in this situation? If that doesn’t work, then pause, breathe, and wait until your nervous system has cooled down before you address the situation.  Doing so ensures that you are warm, responsive, and firm with your standards instead of angry, punitive, or intimidating.

Employ a Time-in

One of the most effective discipline techniques for children is employing a time-in.  Doing so helps children talk about difficult emotions.

Here’s how: gently remove children from the situation and sit with them to help them process the feelings that drove the unwanted behavior.  Keep in mind that listening to children doesn’t mean that you give up the idea of setting limits.  It’s still okay to tell children no running into the street, no hitting, no jumping on the couch, and no roughing up the family pet.

A time-in involves connecting with children and helping them put language to their feeling states, so they learn how to manage their emotions and behaviors more effectively.

Validate and honor feelings

Honoring feelings does not mean that you must agree with explosive emotions.  You don’t need to have the same opinion or consent to do something suggested by your child either.  The goal here is to make emotional contact, so he/she doesn’t feel alone.  Doing so sends a powerful, unspoken message:  “You matter to me!”  “I accept you!”  “I’m here for you!”

Hot Tip: Intense feelings can activate the survival centers in the brain.  When fight or flight hormones hijack children, learning a positive lesson becomes difficult if not impossible.  In contrast, validating and honoring feelings calms the nervous system and increases a child’s ability to learn positive lessons!

When misbehavior erupts, be sure to avoid lecturing and giving life lessons.  Instead, employ a Time-In where you stay with children and let them have their meltdown in your warm and responsive presence.  Expressing emotions with a safe, attentive, accepting adult is what helps kiddos move through difficult and intense feelings while learning how to self-soothe, problem-solve, and behave better.

You can say something like, “Sweetie, you seem to be struggling a bit. Come over here and sit by me because I want to understand you better.  Can you put words to what you are feeling?”

Afterward, validating feelings can help children expand their self-awareness and discover why they acted the way they did.  Honoring feelings helps children feel better about themselves and so much closer to you.  Even more, children raised this way tend to open up to your guidance about why we don’t say “shut up” or tell lies because “It cuts invisible cords that connect our hearts.”

A Point to Ponder

Staying calm, employing a Time-in, and honoring feelings are effective discipline techniques for children!  They are essential elements of a parenting style that is warm, responsive, and firm with your expectations.  In the end, they help you guide children without stress, punishment or raising your voice.

Note: 

I’m very excited about my latest audio lesson.  It’s called, “How To Get Kids To Listen The First Time Without Raising Your Voice!”  It’s jam-packed with easy-to-learn solutions that work!  Get all the details here!

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