It often feels like everyone has an opinion on how best to discipline children, which can make it hard to trust your own instincts and know for sure that you are doing what is best for your kids. Rather than worry about what others think, ask yourself about your discipline methods and why you use them so that you can gain greater insights into the process and how it benefits your child.
To help you reflect on how you discipline your child we have put together the following questionnaire. Answer each question honestly, then total your answers. Match the total number of “yes” answers to the explanations at the end to discover if you discipline your child appropriately.
Take the Discipline Questionnaire
- Before disciplining your child, do you consider why (s)he acted out?
- Before disciplining your child, do you consider if (s)he was mimicking you?
- When you discipline your child, do you take his or her age into account?
- Do you make sure that your methods of discipline match the behaviour?
- When you threaten to discipline a child do you follow through?
- Have you discussed with your child why you have set certain rules?
- When one discipline method does not work do you try another?
- After a child has been disciplined do you discuss the incident together?
- Are you consistent with your discipline?
- Are you and your partner in agreement about disciplining children?
- Do you refrain from making unenforceable threats as a method of discipline?
- Do you use positive reinforcement as a method of instilling discipline?
Between zero and four Yes answers
If you answered “yes” to between zero and four questions then you do not likely discipline your child appropriately. It may be that you become frustrated at repeated behaviours or you feel that you don’t have time to sort out why things happened the way they did, but it seems as though you might be falling into the habit of punishing rather than disciplining. Punishment means that you make your child suffer for his or her actions, while discipline means that you teach him or her to learn from the situation instead. Yes, it can be hard to slow down and institute a system of discipline which encourages all family members to act appropriately, but until you do you’ll likely be caught in a negative downward spiral of bad behaviour followed by punishment/suffering which breeds more bad behaviour. Remember, it is the behaviour that you disapprove of and not the child, so make sure that your convey this message to your child.
Between five and eight Yes answers
If you answered “yes” to between five and eight questions then you might discipline your child appropriately. You likely understand that punishment should be avoided in front of discipline, and that you’d like your child to learn from incidents rather than repeat them, but you may not always be able to take a step back and think about what is best for the particular situation. Think about why this is. Does a certain behaviour occur very often? Do you feel bad for having to discipline your children? Do you feel your methods of discipline don’t work? Look objectively at what you have been doing and decide on a few ways to change your methods in the future. Your changes may not work perfectly, but the fact that you are trying to do what is best for your kids will not be lost.
nine or more Yes answers
If you answered “yes” to nine or more questions then you most likely do discipline your child appropriately. You likely keep in mind that discipline means teaching your child something and the family learning together following an incident. If you don’t already, try to make time to speak with a child who has recently been disciplined so that you can be sure that (s)he understands what happened. Also try to put an emphasis on positive reinforcement in the future, you might be surprised at how well it limits negative behaviours.