Don’t mistake fear for respect (and vice-versa)
I’m still astonished with the story of the 13-year old Christian Choate from lake County, Indiana. His body was found cemented and buried in a shallow grave. His father and stepmother accused of beating him frequently, abusing him psychologically and keeping him locked in a cage deprived of food and water for long periods of time. I don’t want to go further describing the horrors of this story but you can read it all at CNN.com.
I just brought this up to illustrate how much damaged children can suffer if we all don’t understand the difference between respect and fear; discipline and cruelty. I’m all in favor of disciplining kids from an early age. That means, teaching them to make wise choices and holding them accountable for consciously misbehaving.
Even though I’m the male parental unit of our home (aka the dad) I think that Suppernanny TV show is a good example on effective “discipline training” kids. The whole idea of house rules and consequences for breaking them, age appropriate time-outs and positive reinforcement seemed to have worked with many of the children on the show and it works for me, my wife and my son too.
The main tip I can give a father is: don’t use excessive “force” of any form. That goes for yelling or physical punishment. I’m not 100% against some sort of physical punishment. I remember giving Lucas a little slap on his hand when he first attempted to stick his tiny 8-month old chubby finger in the electric outlet. The slap was not hard at all and it came accompanied by a firm and direct NO!
Lucas never played with the outlets again and we never even had to use those little covers. Anyway, remember to be consistent when disciplining your child. Give a clear warning and make sure to ask them if they understood the warning and the consequence. If they insist on breaking the rule don’t give them extra-chances. Explain that they broke the rule and give them the punishment. And DO NOT LET THEM OFF THE HOOK. They need to take the punishment until the end. That’s why age appropriate time-outs and punishments are necessary.
But stay in control, keep your cool. Think that you’re the boss but a fair one. Think about the boss you’d like to have at work. Someone who is firm, but also just. You, dad, more than anyone else can help build your child’s character. This is probably the job you most want to succeed in.
If you have any further questions and if you want to share any other suggestion please leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers and for those in the USA, Happy 4th of July.