Published in Ser Padresby Denhi Chaney on August 29, 2013

Translated and adapted by Anders Peterson from the original article "Disciplina y castigo no son lo mismo" by Denhi Chaney

Most likely all of us have gone through a point in our lives when we have run out of patience with our children. We can feel the frustration level to a point where feel about to boil over. Although we may have previously been soft-spoken, by now we are yelling because rules are not being obeyed. As a result, we may end up imposing a severe punishment in order to help our children to listen, learn and show respect.

In most cases, this tactic does not work and we end up feeling we are a failure while our child gets away with things. Nobody has ever said that raising children is an easy task, especially when they are consciously disobedient. However, we know that we have an important job because we are trying to help our children acquire an internal moral compass. This will help them feel that they belong to a family and, as a result, want to be responsible citizens.

It is important to know punishment is not the same as discipline. While discipline teaches, punishment does not. Discipline takes time while punishment is immediate. Discipline is more complex, and punishment is the easiest route to take. Discipline creates a moral person, punishment does not. Discipline is a teaching art because it provides the means by which our children can internalize the consequences of their actions.

Discipline methods are most effective when we are sending positive messages to our children. These positive messages include: I love you (even when you disobey me). I accept you the way you are. You are important and essential in my life. You make a difference. I set aside time to listen to you because you are important to me. I value your opinion (even though I may disagree with you sometimes). I love you enough in order to teach you. If your children receive these messages with the discipline, their anger will be greatly reduced.

Despite our best efforts, there may be moments in which our children are disobedient. This is when they will need a disciplinary penalty in order to learn. The following 4 tips are useful to discipline our children by using penalties instead of punishments. These tips will help us obtain better outcomes and make it possible for mothers to be more relaxed:

1. The penalty must be related with the child's poor choice

. If a child breaks a glass, a common punishment may be to take away his toys. A better way is to use a disciplinary penalty related to the action, like having him help with certain chores in order to help pay for a new glass. When a child sees that his penalties are related to his choices, he begins learning. On the other hand, punishment only leads to anger and resentment because the child cannot see any relationship between his choice and the disciplinary action.

2. We must always tell children what the disciplinary penalty is before they disobey

When parents tell their children what the disciplinary penalty will be beforehand, it will not be a surprise once it is imposed. When a child disobeys, it is important for his parents to remind him that he knew what the consequence would be before he chose to disobey. It is essential that we, as parents, hold our children accountable in order to help them learn and understand that the consequence is related to their disobedient actions.

3. We must always show love once the penalty has been imposed

Once a child has been disciplined, it is important to help him feel loved. We must let him know that we are proud of his ability to accept his consequence.

4. We must talk about what the child has learned from the penalty applied

It is important to always have a brief discussion about what the child has learned from this discipline experience and what choices he will make differently in the future. This is useful to evaluate if our children are learning what we want to teach.

Being a parent is not an easy task. However, when we have the necessary teaching tools, we can guide our children and shape their behavior to help them achieve their potential. Regardless the amount of time we spend and the tears we shed, this is a responsibility that we must never overlook.

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