Moving from Discipline to Self-Discipline with your Child
By Jordan Sim, School Psychologist
Developing self-discipline in students takes time; patience; and the efforts of many people, including parents, teachers, and students themselves. The efforts are well worth it. Self-discipline is seen as socially responsible behavior that is motivated primarily by intrinsic factors, not solely by the anticipation of external rewards or fear of punishment. Research shows that self-discipline promotes positive relations with others and a positive school climate, fosters academic achievement, and promotes self-worth and emotional well-being.
What can I do as a parent to help develop self-discipline?
· Consistently show love, care, and respect. Be a caring adult with whom your child can discuss concerns or problems.
· Give positive attention to the things that your child is doing right, rather than just focusing on misbehavior. Recognize and praise good decisions.
· Establish clear expectations and consequences for breaking the rules.
· Be firm and consistent when disciplining your child.
· Emphasize how misbehavior negatively affects others and the importance of acting responsibly.
· Avoid harsh punishment. Physical punishment develops little self-discipline and simply teaches your child that it’s OK to act aggressively and to try to avoid getting caught. Consider more thoughtful, effective forms of punishment, such as taking away privileges or services.
· Your child might challenge your rules; listen to his or her concerns.
· Adolescents often have legitimate issues regarding the age appropriateness of rules that were effective when they were younger. Try to find fair and responsible middle ground and involve your child in rulemaking when possible.
· Remember that effective parenting practices must change as children grow up. Gradually transition from constant supervision and external control to allowing more autonomy and independence for adolescents.
· Communicate with your child’s teachers. Teachers usually set up similar behavior expectations in their classrooms to those found in students’ homes. Communicating early and often will help teachers and parents set consistent rules.
· Remember that all children and adolescents make mistakes at some point. Making mistakes is part of growing up and one important way to learn how to make good choices and act responsibly.