If you’re a parent, you know how difficult it can be to raise a child who is undisciplined. Your child may not understand why it’s so important for him or her to focus on something or to do things in a certain way. Teaching discipline can be hard, too, because it has to be done in a way that doesn’t simply punish the child. Punishment often doesn’t actually teach a lesson, it just makes a child upset and angry. They might learn what not to do, but they may not actually grasp what they should do or more importantly, why it’s important and relevant. Here are some ways you can help teach your child discipline.
Provide Reasoning Behind Your Rules
If you tell your child “no” or set a rule that he or she breaks, it’s important to do more than just punish him or her. You need to sit your child down and explain why the rule exists, or why you said “no” to something. While your child may not necessarily understand everything about your reasoning, he or she should recognise that you aren’t being arbitrary. You have reasons for the decisions you’ve made, and those reasons are important to you. Older children will be able to follow your reasoning and may even come to agree with you, though teens are likely to do so reluctantly.
One difficult part of this is that in many cases, you aren’t the only authority figure in your child’s life. Your spouse, your other family members, your child’s teacher, and others may not be as willing to explain their reasoning. You may need to explain to your child that not all adults are going to be as willing to talk about their decisions and the driving force behind them. The best thing you can do in these situations is to help your child understand other adults whenever they have questions about an incident.
Create a Schedule
Being on a schedule will help instil discipline and help your children to develop a routine. This will help them get through school, through university, and even serve them throughout their adult lives. Chances are, you’re on a schedule yourself. You probably go to bed at or around the same time each night, get up at the same time each morning, and even do many of your chores and errands at the same time, even if you don’t realise it. You can set a schedule for your children by simply setting dinner times, bed times, and putting together a morning routine that has the household ready to go to work or school with plenty of time to spare.
You may find that your children want you to explain why they have to go to bed so early. You can provide them with information about why sleep is so important to growing children, and remind them that they will be tired the next day without sound rest. You can also point out that you’re on a schedule, too. In fact, you might even consider going to bed at the same time as your children. You don’t necessarily have to go to sleep right then, but make sure everyone is at least in their own bedrooms by the same time. This may help make the routine more palpable to your kids.
Have Study Time
If you don’t have time set aside for your children to work on their homework and on their studies, they’re more likely to put them off until the last minute. This can have lasting effects later on in life because without this type of discipline, it’s likely your children will also procrastinate in the professional world. Learning how to focus and work through things, rather than putting them off, is an important part of being disciplined.
You may not want to set homework time directly after school since your child has been doing schoolwork all day, but you don’t want to set it too late in the evening, either. Setting aside time after dinner may work, but do whatever works best for your family. Some children may actually want to do their homework as soon as they get home so they have the rest of the evening to play.
If your child has difficulty focusing on homework, it may not necessarily be because he or she lacks discipline. They may be struggling with the subject or even have an undiagnosed learning difficulty. If you see him or her struggling for a long period of time and nothing you’ve done has helped, you may want to try hiring a tutor. Having someone who isn’t a family member there with your child may be what he or she needs in order to focus. A professional can also explain things in a different way, and that may be exactly what your child needs.
If you have several children, it can be more difficult to teach discipline and to run a disciplined household, because the older children are going to want more flexibility and fewer restrictions than the younger children. It can be hard explaining to a child who is eight or nine why his or her teenage sibling is allowed to stay up later, which is why having a house-wide bedtime may be a good idea.
However, while giving older children more freedom and responsibility is certainly a good idea, you do need to make sure that your rules are fair to everyone. Everyone in the household should have responsibilities relative to his or her age, and there should be consequences in place if those responsibilities are not met. This structure will help make sure that everyone shows discipline when it comes to chores within the household.
Be Flexible, Too
Finally, while having a routine and rules will help instil discipline in your children and ensure that they grow up to live disciplined lives, you also need to remember to be flexible, too. Letting your children stay up past bedtime on holidays or on special occasions won’t hurt, nor will be it problematic to occasionally reschedule study time if there’s a more pressing situation to attend to. Just as long as you don’t make a habit out of it, it’s okay to be flexible with scheduling and even the rules if you need to be.