Disciplining Your Child – A Whole New Perspective Part 2

Pay Attention to Child's Good Behavior

We are in the middle of looking at four offensive strategies to discipline our children constructively. Last post, we looked at the first of these: modeling good behavior.

The second is to pay attention to your child’s good behavior.

This strategy is basic, but too often neglected. As dad, pay attention to, acknowledge, and affirm your child’s good behavior.

All children, of any age, want attention. They so crave it that much misbehavior results from seeking parents’ attention. Given these basic facts, it stands to reason that we can minimize the misbehavior by paying attention to, thereby reinforcing, the good behavior.

As dads, we give kids our attention by noticing and praising their good behavior. So they practice further good behavior to get more of our attention. Pretty soon, in a positive self-reinforcing cycle of father-child behavior, a relationship develops in which children have the confidence and the desire to do what is right.

Children will perform in the way that pays off. Encourage the good behavior by providing a big payoff for it.

In the next post, we will look at establishing fair rules and boundaries.

Disciplining Your Child – A Whole New Perspective

Modeling Good Behavior

I said in my last post that we will look at four offensive strategies to discipline our children constructively.

The first of these is modeling good behavior. We begin with this because of the definition of discipline which is an instruction to be imparted to “disciples’ or learners.

This means that a dad must first live a life worthy of his children’s emulation. To do this, we must have our own values clearly established, and we must live them.

The importance of having such values and living them was demonstrated persuasively in a Swedish study, which found that well-disciplined adults who live in accordance with their values hardly need to preach self-control to their children and rarely do it. It also found that the converse was true: parents who tell children to be disciplined but who lead undisciplined lives are ineffectual.

True. And easy to say, but oh so hard to do.

I’m reminded of the poignant imagery conveyed by Robert Bly of what children get from all too many modern day dads. He talks about how children used to receive the father’s teaching and his temperament. Now when dad drags himself home from the office or factory at 6:30 or even 8, the children get only his temperament. Dad’s tired, and he probably has had a rough day. That’s reality.

It is also what Great Dads are called to rise above. It’s quite basic. If you want disciplined children, be a responsible, upright, self-disciplined person—a living example of the values you embrace.