Published in Ser Padresby Cindy Peterson on October 8, 2013

Translated and adapted by Anders Peterson from the original article "MΓ©todos eficaces de disciplinar a los hijos" by Cindy Peterson

Disciplining our children is a very important topic that shouldn't be taken lightly. In fact, you may ask yourself what is the best way to discipline your children in order to avoid becoming their enemy. The following are some practices you may consider valuable when teaching your kids:

1. Use constructive criticism

When your children make inappropriate choices or demonstrate challenging behavior, try to find ways to criticize them in a constructive manner. Ask reflective questions, such as, "Do you think this is appropriate attire for a party?" "Why did you get upset with your brother?" "How can you communicate how you feel when somebody upsets you?" or "What do you think you will get by reacting that way?" Asking these types of questions instead of humiliating them is good because it enables us to avoid having an unproductive monologue on our part. On the other hand, it prepares our children to receive constructive criticism from other people without being offended and listening to that person attentively.

2. Praise publicly, discipline privately

As parents, we should take advantage of any opportunity when our children deserve a compliment from us. Make sure they know you appreciate their good choices. Moreover, when they make a poor choice, avoid talking about it in public, because it is less effective. Look for a quiet place to talk about your child's choice. If this happens at home, you could use the backyard, an indoor patio, or even one of the rooms. If this happens in public, use the car or try to go to a less crowded area. Instead of using expressions such as "Don't do this," or "I told you so," try to communicate your disappointment. You could say "I feel very sad when you...", "It breaks my heart when you say..." and make sure you explain why you feel this way. This will enable your children to think and reflect about their behavior. Hopefully they will express why they said something or acted in a particular way.

3. Manifest your authority with gentleness

When we are angry, we should avoid being aggressive to our children. If we have lost our patience and temper, we need to take a few minutes to think how we are going to act. If we respond with impatience and aggressiveness, we will later regret our reaction. By this time, it may be a little too late because some harm may have been caused. Help your children know that they must respect your authority as a parent. In order to be successful, show it without being overpowering. Be firm yet loving. Being balanced in our decisions will help our children to feel respected and willing to make good choices because it is the right thing to do, and not just because they would receive a compliment or a reward.

4. Keep your promises

This is essential to help our children appreciate our consistency. If we have promised to take some privileges away when they disobey, then we must do it. Once they claim their privilege, we can take the opportunity to emphasize the fact that we do keep our promises. On the other hand, if we have made promises and they are obedient, then we must also do it and fulfill our part. We must avoid promising something we will not be able to do. Remember that keeping your promises will be a payoff when you need to use positive discipline with your children.

Finally, do not forget that although there are several ways to discipline your children correctly, you can use effective methods in your home to help your children learn daily from their experiences in a positive way.

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