6 Unexpected ways of disciplining your child

Disciplining a child -- just that phrase seems sort of wrong because of the connotations that go with the word discipline. Images that come to mind are a that of spankings, time-outs, punishments, among other things. Discipline, actually, isn’t a bad thing and the best way you can get your child to do the things that are necessary for him to grow into a considerate, responsible adult. Direct disciplining usually gets your kid up against you and will only ensure that he hides his misbehaviour from you the next time. The trick is to address indiscipline without seeming to. We checked out some Quora responses to the question “What are some unique, effective ways to discipline a child?”

1. Prevention is the best discipline of all, says Nan Waldman.

Instead of allowing them to become little miscreants in the first place, explain clearly to them exactly how you want them to behave and why. At the same time, it’s also important to tell them to come to you or go to another adult they trust if they’re having trouble following your instructions, so that they’re not left alone to solve problems they can’t handle. Open and honest communication, peeps.

2. Natural consequences arise by themselves.

One more from Nan Waldman. Your usual way of punishing your child is to tell her she’s grounded for a week when she comes home late without informing you. Instead, just allow the natural consequences of her actions to come into play, without actually going out of your way to become the disciplinarian. For instance, if she’s home at eight when she said she’d be back by six and your dinnertime is seven, finish dinner without her and she’ll be left to eat cold food all on her own. Since she won’t like that, she just won’t come late again without telling you.

3. Don’t treat your kid like a child.

Huh, Brian Davis? A kid is a kid, so you treat her like one. But no, that doesn’t always work because you assume that with children, they just have to follow what you say without questioning you. So think of them as other human beings, like you would your own spouse, whom you can’t order around without reasonable explanations. When they ask you questions about the things you ask them to do, answer them patiently and explain the natural consequences of breaking the rule you set them.

4. Give them options, continues Brian Davis.

Makes sense, right? Instead of handing out ultimatums, list out a number of things they could do to achieve the goal you set them. Take the example of coming home early after playing with their friends. Tell them that if they have to be home at seven, they’d have to stop playing by 6:45 at least. For that, they could either play three short games or one long game starting five o'clock, or they could play two long games starting four. Give them the option of coming home by themselves if they think they’ll remember to leave on time, but also insist that, if they think they need reminding, you’ll be at their friend’s house to pick them up at 6:45. Works?

5. Distraction!

Aha, thank you, Mike Heroys. Yes, of course - the time-tested method of keeping kids away from trouble. Kicking up a tantrum about the food you cooked them? Ask them what they did new today at school. Grumpy about having to come to a relative’s house with you? Give them a toy to play with in the car. Avoids punishment altogether because you’re overriding your child’s chance at misbehaviour by putting something she likes in front of her. Clever, no?

6 Hide a moral in a story.

Again, old-timer, Hari Charan, but it does work. When your child decides to brush aside your instructions and do what she wants to anyway, don’t get her up against you in a fight. Sit her down and scare her just a little bit with a story in which someone faced unpleasant consequences for doing what she did. If you think she’s likely to catch you out on your trick, make sure the characters are either mythological or animals. This will also help in keeping her from getting more afraid than necessary because there’s some distance from reality.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Can you think of any more that have worked with your kids?