‘No’ is not the only thing to say while you discipline your child. Did you know that a child hears “No” a staggering 400 times a day? That’s not just tedious for the parents but can also be very harmful to the kid.
According to experts, kids who listen “no” a lot during childhood have poor language skills as compared to those children whose parents offer more positive feedback and discipline them without saying “No”.
It does not mean that a parent should not guide or discipline the child but they should discipline and teach the child in better and more positive ways.
I have compiled a list of 13 practical steps to teach children qualities of autonomy and initiative, (instead of guilt and shame).
Here you go:
1. Do not demean or disrespect the child
A child may be younger to you but he/she is also an individual and needs to be treated like a precious and valuable individual since childhood so that he/she develops solid self-esteem and self-worth that will help him/her throughout their entire life.
Do not scream or yell or spank your kid, it generates a sense of guilt and shame in the child’s mind.
Instead, treat them as equal and teach them by example.
Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it. – Harold Hulbert
2. Involve your child in decision making
Instead of dictating your child what to do and how to do it, involve them in the process of decision making so that they can learn personal power and autonomy.
Give them choices and ask them what they would like to choose? It could be as simple as choosing between two ice cream flavors or which book to read or which colour to use for drawing?
When the kids are involved in the decision-making process, they will feel empowered and develop the qualities of personal power and autonomy.
3. Be polite when you make requests to them
Be polite and respectful when you ask your child to do something. Don’t ask your child to do something right away and interrupt what they are doing. It will instil a feeling in them that what they are doing is not important and they don’t have a say in choosing what to do with their time. Ask them if they will do this after their work is finished and show them that you are willing to wait till they finish their current occupation.
Even if you think a child is too young to understand completely what you are doing but they do understand that my parent loves me enough to be polite to me and show respect to me. That goes a long way in building positive self-worth and self-esteem of a kid from a young age.
4. Teach them the importance of punctuality and time management
Carry a small timer with you wherever you go.
Teach your child to set it for one or two minutes and tell them to finish a small task within that time duration.
5. Give them a choice in how they would like to help you
You can give them a choice in small tasks and ask them to choose how they would like to help you. For e.g. you can ask them, “Would you like to help me to carry my purse or get me the car keys?” or “What would you like to do when you reach home, read or sleep?”
These small decisions can imbibe the sense of empowerment and autonomy in the child’s mind and develop a sense of independence and confidence that will help them in the long run also.
6. Show don’t tell
The best way to get a child to do something is to show them instead of giving lectures or be plainly suggestive.
And for kids who are in the pre-verbal stage, the best strategy to work with them is supervision, distraction and redirection.
If you find them doing something annoying, distract them and then show them what needs to be done by actually doing it yourself.
7. Use your sense of humour
It takes a lot of patience to bring up the kids in a calm and positive manner.
Use your sense of humour to lighten up the mood and stay positive during the tiring and stressful times.