Discipline

Discipline is one area where I fail miserably as a parent. I have discussed my concerns with many experienced parents and have read a number of articles to help me grasp the problems I encounter. But somehow, I have always felt inadequate in being able to discipline my 4-year-old.

Discipline (Parenting)

Root Cause of failure in disciplining my child: 

After investing lot of time and speculation, I’ve arrived at three key issues that have been keeping me from achieving desired results:

  1. When I was a child, my parents’ temper had been the major disciplining force. I used to be too scared of the consequences which would entail severe scolding (only) if I dared to be mischievous or didn’t do as I was asked to. This approach when tried, left me feeling miserable and guilty to no bounds and hence I promised myself to not adopt it on my child. Beyond this, I had no inkling on how to inspire my child to adopt a disciplined life.
  2. The bouts of depression that came along with my divorce, unfortunately, left me confused, broken, frustrated and scared of landing up with the mammoth responsibility of being a single parent. I was in a fragile state of mind, unsure of myself and clueless of how I’ll give my child a good life.
  3. My child and I are temperamentally poles apart. The many challenges parenthood hurled my way infused me the feeling of being a failure parent. I have often caught myself sinking in the ocean of the notion that I am not a good enough parent when it comes to understanding my child.

Acceptance: 

It took me a lot of homework, introspection and delving into my pent-up emotions to chalk out the above three issues. But ever since I had the clear picture in view, I knew what all I had in hand and what areas I needed to work on.

Modus Operandi: 

I had to begin working on my own self to reach an acceptable point of exercising methods of disciplining my child. The journey has been uphill and failures frequent. However, my guiding light has been my determination to evolve as a calmer, clear-headed, smart parent.

I have been guilty of yelling at my child, trying to scare her with negative consequences for bad behavior and failing miserably to implement them. I have written at length about the reasons for the same here and here.

After many hits and misses, I came to realize that for my child the one thing that works well is positive discipline. Positive reinforcement. Praising the good, ignoring the mistakes and encouraging the child to work on their strengths. With anger & frustration keeping me at my wit’s end putting it into practice has been very tough for me.

Pari has been a stubborn kid since birth. Her obstinate behavior makes her fight all odds and people irrespective of who they are to do things as she pleases. Locking horns with her were taking me nowhere and were injecting frustration enough to make me go insane day by day.

That’s when I decided in my heart to play to her strengths. I had to learn to let go more than my over-cautious self would normally allow. I had to learn to choose my battles wisely. I had to train myself to see the bigger picture of letting her eat instant noodles for dinner before an exam rather than blowing the nutritious food trumpet all the time.

Not wanting to do the homework on an evening is seen as a crime in my family. It took me long to let Pari be and not get dark circles worrying about the homework not done because when I chose to let her be, she surprised me by waking earlier than usual and finishing it before going to school.

Setting clear expectations has helped me big time. Earlier, when I wasn’t clear on my expectations from her, I was only adding to her baffled state and my misery. Gradually, I have learnt to picture situations and plan ahead.

I now talk to Pari openly, honestly and as clearly I can make it. I encourage dialogue so that we are clear about where we’re coming from and she is coherent of my expectations from her. I tell her before every activity (be it eating, homework, outing, shopping, et al) what all is expected of her and what she can give a miss if she pleases. It’s our private talk, but she is briefed beforehand that keeps her carefree and myself relaxed from the anxiety of checking her endlessly.

Discipline Quote

In the year gone by, I have come a long way in disciplining. Pari still acts stubborn, gets on my nerves with her wrong choices leading to harmful consequences (like catching a cold for eating ice-cream in cold weather). You can see us mother-daughter fight like siblings, not talking to each other for an hour or two, I sometimes lose my patience under work stress but overall, with time we’re getting saner.

Though there’s a long way to go and I am aware there will never be a point when I’ll master the art of disciplining my child. But, life is about constant improvement. I am getting wiser with every mistake I make. I am getting calmer with every knot I’ve managed to untangle in my mind. I am getting smarter as I am able to understand my child’s temperament better with each experience we share.

I am working on setting a positive example by being what I expect her to be. Working hard (read very hard) to control my stress levels and give her positive attention. I’m sure someday I’ll be a lot clearer on this topic than I am today.

But most of all, I take a moment out every day to let Pari feel that I love her unconditionally no matter what may happen.

How difficult has disciplining your child been for you? 

Which method(s) of disciplining work best for your child?

* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.

Please find my other posts here.

58 thoughts on “Discipline

  1. inGeniousty

    Won’t talking and regular discussion with your kid help? When I was young my father used to be very strict. Discipline was something that he expected from me and my sister. Cz there was some kind of fear associated with it. But we never troubled our parents much. I think you can explain her and talk to her about the same.

    D-Delusion of Love

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    1. Talking and trying to explain things to a child are definitely the best ways to teach a child but for children younger than 5 years of age, this seldom works especially in the midst of a tantrum.
      When a child has made up her his/mind, it is often difficult to discipline them owing to their energy and incapacity to control emotions like adults. This is when yelling, time outs and punishments step in. I too have had very strict parents but like you rightly said, it makes a child obey by fear and not will.
      This is what makes disciplining young children so tricky and emotionally disturbing for parents and children alike.

      Like

  2. I love this post as it talks about my favorite topic – sensible parenting. Isn’t it very easy for us to be a “because I say so” parent. But, it is our senses that made us chose the path that is hard but the right approach.

    I follow the positive parenting style too. That is what my mom followed and it doesn’t hurt anyone. I have taught Adi that if we say No there will always be a valid reason behind and she should always keep her calm and ask us for the reason if we forget to share and shouldn’t whine over our No. And in most situations so far we were able to justify our No to her. We had never never used “because I say so” to her. I encourage her to talk.

    We do have the low, arguing, throwing tantrum moments but what matters is how your child handles a situation by herself and the choices they make when the choice is given to them. I often make Adi realize how blessed I am to have her.

    The boy – don’t start me with him. He is out of my control at least as of now. Slowly trying to discipline him but as of now only “No don’t do that or no don’t come here” is working with him. The minute I say No he jumps out of his way to execute it 😦 I guess my parenting style has to differ between my two kids). I am yet to figure out what will work with this little boy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely love your approach Ani.
      My parents have always been very strict, the very thought of having to speak to them used to terrify me until recently. It was mainly because their style of parenting is totalitarian with no room for open talk. I have always been the one in the family (from my teen years) insisting and requesting my parents to open up, talk to me or atleast hear my points of view. So I know it rather well how being a strict parent will push me away from my child and will leave her emotionally handicapped for a lifetime.
      This is why I have chosen to learn on my own to be an open, friendly parent who loves unconditionally and never acts like a tyrant. Though I do have my own emotional meltdown moments but with experience things are getting so much better 😀
      Ani you are one of those strong people whom I have always looked up to for inspiration on how to broach a topic with Pari (there, I finally said it).
      {Hugs}

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Parenting is not an easy journey at all. There are lot of challenges. In terms of disciplining What has worked well for us is :

    a) Avoid giving orders: We try not to order Bambi to do something. Bambi hates ‘NO’ or ‘DO THIS’ coming from us. Instead, we try and explain why we are against something or why we are for something. Ultimately, we leave it up to her what she wants to do.

    a) Establishing Routine: Bambi loves routines and we use this to our advantage. We always try and stick to the routines and timings. Any deviation from the routine makes Bambi cranky and sometimes confused and then she throws tantrums.

    b) Attention: Give Bambi lot of time and attention and she is fine. If I am engrossed in work or whatsapp 😉 she will do anything or not do something she is meant to do to gain my attention.

    c) Respect Bambi’s interests and choices: Like I commented on your previous post, We treat Bambi equal to us and listen to her and always involve her in all our decisions.

    I work full time and find it difficult to take time to assist Bambi with her homework. Give her a sheet of paper and ask her to write Cat, Bat 🙂 etc she will do it but if I give her the homework sheet that the school sends she will come up with all sorts of excuses – I dont do homeworks on Mondays :-), I did my homework yesterday so there is no need to do any more homework :-), I am tired, I am sleepy etc.

    I can never get Bambi to do her home work by saying ‘Do your homework now’. Instead we have a routine. On week days she can do only as much homework as she likes to do. Sunday evening 5pm is homewrok time for Mumma and Bambi. While Bambi completes her homework sheets, Mumma will be checking Bambi’s weekly homework sheets making sure everything from that week is complete. We try not to commit to anything else at 5pm on Sundays so that we do not miss the homework and revision time. More often than not, Bambi willingly sits down to complete her pending homework on Sunday evenings because that is the routine. Occasionally if she is not willing to do her homework I try and find out why she doesnt want to do it and let her be. If it is a toy or cartoon that is of more interest than the homework, we promise to let her have it as soon as the homework is done and on such days I try and wrap up the homework time sooner than on other days to accommodate this toy or cartoon time in our sunday evening routine.

    I think you are doing a great job with Pari. You are so right in letting Pari know everyday that no matter what ,you Love her unconditionally and that is one thing every child wants to hear from their parent. It is so reassuring for a child.

    That reminds me, have you and Pari read ‘Mommy, do you love me’ by Jeane Willis. This book is very close to my heart as Bambi and I often say to each other one of the lines in the book – ‘ Sometimes you make me sad, sometimes you make me mad. No matter what you say or do, I will always love you”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And ME, the other similar book – Alan Durant’s ‘ I love you, Little Monkey’ . That is also very close to me as the little monkey does lots of things to push boundaries and the big monkey handles it all very nicely.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow! that is some amazing parenting advises Truly Happy.
      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with Bambi & those book recommendations.I’ve noted them both and will get hold of these soon 😀
      I am so glad to have you around ❤

      Like

  4. True. Positive discipline is better than any other discipline. And don’t even think of bribing kids with chocolate or icecream. That gets them into another problem, namely, doing things only for a reward, and not for the sake of doing it alone.
    Sharing this post, as I don’t have much to say about the question you asked.
    All the best! 🙂

    Like

    1. Bribing is the biggest temptation for parents to fall for but like you rightly pointed out it backfires and makes one learn the hard way why to never try it 😀
      Thank you so much Mithila for the support and for sharing 🙂

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  5. Its commendable how you have manged to raise and discipline Pari with all that you have done.

    My two cents having being brought up in joint family and having seen quite a few children grow and the best way to discipline them is allow them their share of few mistakes and let them be and they will surely come around.

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    1. I completely agree with you Karan that letting children be is often the best way thing to do. Taking a break from the situation often yields more positive results for the child and saves the parent from an agonizing angry outburst 🙂
      Thank you Karan.

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  6. Oh my God ME! You’ve read and penned down the thoughts in my mind. The amount of GUILT I go through after screaming at my child weighs me down completely. And after each episode I wonder why did I scream? Just to take the easy and faster way out. Past few days I have been trying to resolve and work on my patience levels but without much success. Your post has inspired me. Bravo to you and all the best too:-) Lets get through this together:-)

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    1. So glad to hear from you IY after a long time 😀
      I have been in your shoes and there are still times when I do get worked up but I have come to learn that I’m the adult who needs to act mature. i’m the one who should take a break, calm down, let the moment pass and then get back to talking about it. Earlier I always used to react in the heat of the moment and it almost 100% of the times left me and Pari in tears with no lessons learnt. That’s why I had to work a saner way out.
      All the way with you. Let’s do it together.
      {Hugs}

      Like

  7. Hi there. You’ve been through some tough times and still, here you are now….brave enough to be writing about it. I strongly believe in teaching through example.Children at this tender age are like a sponge absorbing all and more they see and hear. Even if they do not seem to obey, they are observing the right and wrong we do. You are doing well with Pari, just be patient and keep at it. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂
    @KalaRavi16 from
    Relax-N-Rave

    Like

    1. Dear Kala,
      You are absolutely right that kids might fail to express themselves but are watching all the time, even when we as parents like to believe they are not. I’m slowly beginning to see the areas where I’ve been going wrong and working on those areas.
      Thank you so much for your understanding and support 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Shilpa Garg

    It is fantastic that you have been able to realize the gaps and then you have bridged them successfully. Yes, positive reinforcement is certainly a great strategy. Glad that it is working for you too. Parenting is not a easy journey truly and each child is different. So we have to work on strategies that work best for our child. And let me tell you that you are doing great! A big hug to you, ME!

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  9. I really enjoyed your honest post. My children are grown up now but I also found discipline a problem area. Positive reinforcement works very well as also some consequence for a bad action. If you swear, you’re in time out. If you fight with your sister, again and again, you don’t get to go out. You will be given ample warning of what the consequence will be and if you still choose to go ahead and break the rules then you have to deal with what’s coming. It works.

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    1. Welcome to my blog Kalpanaa 🙂
      Time outs have somehow never worked with my daughter till date. However, having clear rules in place makes disciplining easier to implement and also makes the child see what behavior is acceptable and what is not.
      Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂

      Like

  10. Honest dialogue works well, I feel. 🙂 I don’t know how I’d handle this aspect when the time comes, though I frankly don’t think I’ll be a parent who yells. It’s not me.

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    1. That’s great Vinay 🙂
      Yelling doesn’t work anyway. It’s a placebo that all parents have tried at some point or the other only to find it worthless.
      Honest dialogue is always the best 😀

      Like

  11. Dont make discipline the hall mark of your parenting. It can make a lasting negative impact on the child’s mind, one that we will not even know. I think you are on the right track. let the child make a mistake and learn once in a while!
    Just my two – paise worth!

    @yenforblue from
    Spice of Life!

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    1. You are spot on Archana.
      Obsessing over any one aspect of parenting is a big mistake. Disciplining like breathing has to happen naturally, effortlessly but surely to make growth happen in a natural yet guided way.
      Thank you for sharing that valuable tip 😀

      Like

  12. this post is so helpful. Kavya is 3, and she is getting stubborn with every passing day. I like this setting expectations thing. I will try to use this going forward. thanks

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    1. Hello D 🙂
      Please do give positive reinforcement and setting expectations a shot, it makes the child understand better and saves a lot of grief undue yelling causes.
      P.S.- Do you have a blog? Please do share the link if you do, I’d love to read 😀

      Like

  13. Novemberschild

    Discipline is the right way of doing things in well behaved manner. It needs a control over the mind and body. Somebody has natural property of self-discipline however somebody has to develop it inside them. Discipline is the ability to control on the feeling and do right thing at right time as well as overcome the weaknesses. Life without discipline is incomplete and unsuccessful. We need to follow some rules by respecting our elders and seniors.

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  14. Hi there,
    Great topic. Something I struggle with everyday. My kids are 6 and 3. And I am a yeller. And sometimes its awful. And I still have not figured what really works. But I do try and talk to them. Punishments like cutting TV and any other entertainment. Sometimes just telling them you feel bad with the behavior helps. Sometimes I try to pick up books from the library that that moral based but fun stories.

    D is for Diapers

    Like

    1. Hi Seena,
      Disciplining is a difficult topic, one where every parent stumbles irrespective of their experience. I have been trying different strategies to achieve effective results. Failing sometimes and seeing them work at other times.
      Thank you for sharing your personal experience. It is always great to connect with parents who are in the same boat as me 😀

      Like

  15. I love the way how you are trying to handle the situation by first figuring out and doing your home work, accepting your problems and dealing with them one by one..I am sure this will help you and Pari, both, to have a wonderful bonding similar to that of a friend. Like we learn and understand lot of things from our friends, similarly, if Pari finds a friend in you then she will also understand what you want from her, including the fact that you want her to be disciplined…

    Though I don’t have kids, so I can’t comment much about it, but I believe each kid is unique and have their own certain ways of doing things. We can either become strict, scare off the kid and make them even more stubborn or else try to be their friends and make things easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree Srivi, every child is unique and we can’t have one strategy to discipline all, but having the plan outline charted always helps.
      Thnk you Srivi for sharing your views 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I found that giving my kids a clear list of activities for the next day helped tremendously with outbursts. In order to motivate them to do chores, we had a reward system based on a store. They got mommy dollars for chores and then could buy things in the ‘mommy store’ later. When children are little, they can’t see the bigger picture of real money and a trip to Target. It worked well, and I have teenagers now that don’t require much prompting when it comes to chores and homework, and they never fight back about it. They can now understand the concepts of their contributions going to support the whole house functioning. So far so good.

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  17. My parents were open-minded. They were strict, but they let me fight my own battles. I look up to them in so many ways because they never scared me off from doing a thing. I am in awe at how you gathered yourself from the hard times you had and is doing a fab job with Pari. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Shalzzz for sharing your personal experience. Every story, every anecdote is special in guiding us about what all can be done and how 🙂
      Thank you sweetie ❤

      Like

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  19. My God! You have given it all so much thought and done so much positively! Here I am struggling with a stubborn 6 year old and fighting to keep my patience and teach him discipline! Way to go ME! Way to go! Im learning from you…

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    1. So glad to have you around LLT after a long break 🙂
      Very honestly, I struggle, stumble almost daily but the situation often stays the same. When I get tired of the monotony of trying the same tricks and my kid ensures my attempts fail every single time, that’s when I decided to use my mind to break-free from the daily struggle. We are all in the same boat LLT, struggling and learning everyday 🙂

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  20. As you know, your thoughts on discipline and Pari always remind me of Mimi. We’ve been trying to be more forceful about discipline recently, but this post is a reminder that the ‘laying down the law’ approach is really counter-productive with Mimi. I’m going to go back to the old ‘work with her personalty and avoid direct confrontation’ approach.

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    1. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that Pari and Mimi are similar on many-many accounts.I have myself been struggling to discipline Pari. When nothing seemed to work, I decided to have a proper plan in action and this is working as of now 🙂 The direct confrontation approach sends Pari on a defensive mode and she chooses to scream, cry and try finding fault in everything I do. So it was clearly not working in my case.

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  22. I just feel like hugging you right now! It is such a beautiful post! I’ve always enjoyed reading stories about Pari and I love the way you describe things! I’m sure parenting is not easy and doing it single-handedly is again a task in itself! You are bound to get stressed and yet you are doing just fine, making efforts to improve things so that it goes smooth between you and your daughter!
    If ever you feel like sharing, talking or anything for that matter, I’m just a ping away! I’d be more than happy to be all ears to you!

    Hugs ❤

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