When it comes to raising a child, you can read all the books on the shelf, but nothing can prepare you to be a parent until you become one on your own.
Everyone has different styles of raising children, especially since every kid is different. And it can be confusing whether or not to look to your own parents’ style for guidance or create one on your own. This is no light matter either, as it’s apparent that how a child is raised can affect them beyond childhood.
Kids who receive positive parental support and nurturing end up developing a larger hippocampus, the region in the brain responsible for learning, memory, and stress responses.
This doesn’t mean when your child misbehaves, you’re free to let them off the hook, but you’re best off disciplining them in a way that shows you care, not that makes them frightened or scared.
Research has found that certain ways of disciplining your kids are more effective than others. If you’ve found that your son or daughter is acting up, and you’re not sure how to deal with their behavior, try the following six rules to consider when enforcing discipline.
1. Stay Calm
You may be tempted to let your boiling emotions get the best of you, but anger and vitriol won’t get the message across to children; instead, they will become scared and confused. Try to look at the big picture or even concoct a pre-developed plan on how to act in a situation where your child acts up.
Studies show that the most effective forms of discipline include offering compromises, regardless of the child’s level of misbehavior.
Compromising helps kids learn communication and encourages them to seek better behavior. However, be warned that too much compromise long-term can cause defiant or violent children to misbehave more frequently.
3. Utilize Reasoning
For less extreme behaviors, such as whining or complaining, reasoning has also been shown to be an effective way to enforce discipline.
Although it may not be as effective in the moment for certain types of misbehavior, reasoning is actually the most effective discipline strategy long-term.
4. Demonstrate Empathy
Kids can best change their behavior when they actually understand why what they did was wrong.
Studies show that kids are most likely to show empathic concerns if they have parents who help them deal with negative emotions, so it’s up to you to help talk to them about how feelings affect behavior, and vice versa.
5. Punish, Without Getting Physical
Sometimes, verbal reasoning isn’t enough, and stronger punishment is needed. In this case, research shows that a time-out along with taking something away from your child is the most effective, if it is preceded by firm commands and warnings, and followed by enforcement of the punishment.
Research is also clear and consistent in finding that physical punishment such as a spanking or hitting your child is not effective; instead, it leads to increased aggression and anti-social behavior.
6. Lead By Example
Kids look up to their parents, so if you want your offspring to be kind, compassionate, and understanding, you should be too. You can see when your child is young and learning, they soak things up like sponges, imitating sounds and behaviors, so why not give them good qualities to imitate?
If you happen to make a mistake, that’s okay; just be communicative with your child, so they can learn from it also.