The Five Discipline Basics:
Structure, Communication, Limits, Consistency & Guidance.
The first two of the 5 Discipline Basics: ‘Structure and Communication’ have been outlined in Discipline Basics 1-2. Here are the other 3 critical pieces for child behavior modification.
Limits are restricted choices and boundaries. By giving kids limited choices, you’re still allowing them the freedom to make decisions. But, at the same time, you’re sparing them the overload of having too much to choose from. All children need limits to feel secure, in control, and safe.
Here is the truth: As much as they protest to the contrary, NO child can deal with getting everything they want. Their little brains cannot handle it. The more they get, the more they’ll ask. . . and throw a fit when you dare to say no. Remember this:
The reason kids continually ask for more is to create secure limits.
Read that sentence again and commit it to memory!! Dog-ear this page! You set yourself up for undesirable behavior if you give your child a new cell phone each year, four different hand-held electronic games every time they turn around, custom $200 shoes, and the latest shoot-em up game for your razor-thin, big screen TV. It’s too much! Spoil, spoil, and more spoil! Kids need limited choices. It makes them feel safe and in control.
And while we’re on the subject, kids in grade school do NOT need to be texting each other. One of my kids’ kindergarten buddies (this was years ago, mind you) got the newest and greatest cell phone for Christmas and I nearly died. Good gawd, what is the world coming to! Who the heck are they going to text and what are they going to say? Five-year-olds can’t even spell! I mean, are you freaking kidding me?
This builds trust and shapes behavior – by continually letting kids know what is acceptable and not acceptable. Write expectations down or get a behavior or chore chart going. Stick with it! When children trust you, they do what is asked, because they know consequences are consistent. When you are not consistent, you just confuse the poor baby. They don’t know what you want or how to act. Consistency is SO important, and you will hear me say it over and over!
Kids are happiest when they aren’t moving from house to house, or mom and dad are secure in their marriage. Divorce may be inevitable in some marriages, but keep a structured routine. I know you probably hate your ex’s guts, but one of you needs to step up and get over yourself first. May as well be you. Hey, I hear you if you think your ex is rotten, but you’ve still got to share this child with them. So do your best to bite your tongue and get along. If you can’t get on the same page, the kid is the one who suffers.
Consistency also means hearing the same rules from both parents. Even in the average Joe-Schmoe marriage, what do we tend to fight about? Kids! One spouse thinks ‘A’ is okay but ‘B’ is not. The other is hell bent on disagreeing. There’s constant battle and negotiation over what values you want to instill in the kids and what behavior is okay. Work through that, people!! Compromise and put on a united front. If you constantly undermine each other, the child gets mixed messages and doesn’t know which way is up. Rotten behavior is sure to follow.
This provides alternatives to undesirable behavior. Stop saying, “No!” all the time. Instead, tell kids what they CAN do. Tell and show your child what you WANT to see – everyday, all the time! Giving proper guidance teaches kids how to approach getting what they want in a positive way and eliminates the cycle of negative attention. Good gravy, we give way too much negative attention!