When we discipline with love we go a step further. We want our kids to understand the consequences of their behavior. We say NO but we also help to redirect our childrens inappropriate behaviors. We offer alternatives and present opportunities for good behavior. For example, John is preparing lunch in the kitchen for his four year old son, Mark. As he glances out in the living room, he sees Mark tearing sheets of newspaper and spewing it all over the carpet. He says NO to his son in a serious tone and suggests that he helps him set the table for lunch. Mark reluctantly responds and helps his father. With patience and love, John has helped redirect his sons behavior. Mark can understand through his fathers approach that his actions were inappropriate.
When we discipline with love, we only discipline when it is absolutely necessary. We learn to choose our battles wisely. This is important since children often feel the urge to stop trying when parents constantly criticize their every move. We can help our children improve their behaviors by presenting fewer rules for them to follow. Younger children (birth to 2 years) in particular need to start with only one or two rules. Older children can possibly handle more, but how much a child can handle is solely dependent on the childs personality and his developmental stage. The key is to help boost your childs self-confidence by giving him opportunities to achieve a bit of early success.
Disciplining with love usually incorporates some level of understanding. We need to understand the developmental milestones in each stage of our childs life. When we compare his actions to the actions of the average child in his age group then we can better understand if his behavior is appropriate or not. For instance, a seven month old banging on a glass table may receive a different parental feedback versus an eight year old doing the same action. What we deem appropriate for our young children, we can also deem inappropriate for our older children. At times it is also easy for us to confuse self-exploration with aggression and misbehavior.
Disciplining with love helps us to bond with our children by giving them the security that they need. By being consistent with our rules and consequences, we are showing our children that we are responsible, credible parents. Consistency is a difficult part of discipline since it is the area most tested by our children. Being consistent also takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Our emotions can sometimes get in the way of consistency and we let things slide when we are happy but we always reprimand when we feel miserable.
When we discipline with love we try to stay connected to our kids. We focus on the behavior and not the character of the child. We try to change the bad behavior without making the child himself feel like he is bad. We aim to explain the cause and effect of a situation before resorting to time-out and seclusion. We try to understand the reason for the behavior. Is the behavior caused by a need for attention? Is the child displaying some behavior seen at daycare or at school? Is the child being bullied on the playground? As parents we are our childs best advocate. Taking a loving approach to discipline helps strengthen the communication bond between you and your child. It assures the child that in times of need you will be there.