As a parent or teacher we are eager to find the best ways to descipline our children but many of us fail. A recent study found that 1 in 3 say the method they use doesn't work. Let's read some research based studies which may help us learn the effective ways to teach our kids descipline.
Childhood health experts say many parents think discipline means meting out punishment. But often the punishments parents use end up reinforcing the bad behavior instead of correcting it. Surprisingly, the most effective discipline typically doesn’t involve any punishment at all, but instead focuses on positive reinforcement when children are being good.
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that when parents come to him complaining of discipline problems, he often explains the etymology of the word. The Latin root is “discipulus,” which means student or pupil.
“Defining discipline is really important,” said Dr. Ginsburg, author of “A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens,” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. “When I tell parents this, you see their faces and they say: ‘It’s not about punishment? It’s about teaching?’ That changes things.”
But effective discipline is more difficult for busy parents because strategies that involve teaching and positive feedback take a lot more time than simple punishment, noted Dr. Shari Barkin, chief of the division of general pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University.
It was Dr. Barkin’s study of more than 2,100 parents that reported that 1 in 3 said they could not effectively discipline their kids. The findings, published last year in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, showed that parents often used the same punishments that their own parents had used on them. Forty-five percent reported using time-outs, 41.5 percent said they removed privileges, 13 percent reported yelling at their children and 8.5 percent said they used spanking “often or always.”
Parents who resorted to yelling or spanking were far more likely to say their disciplinary approach was ineffective. Given that parents often don’t admit to yelling and spanking, the study probably underestimates how widespread the problem of ineffective discipline really is, Dr. Barkin said.
Many parents’ discipline methods don’t work because children quickly learn that it’s much easier to capture a parent’s attention with bad behavior than with good. Parents unwittingly reinforce this by getting on the phone, sending e-mail messages or reading the paper as soon as a child starts playing quietly, and by stopping the activity and scolding a child when he starts to misbehave.
“How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I need to get off the phone because my child is acting up’?” asked Dr. Nathan J. Blum, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “You’re doing exactly what the child wants.”
Trying to reason with a child who is misbehaving doesn’t work. “Talking and lecturing and even yelling is essentially giving kids your attention,” Dr. Blum said.
While time-outs can be highly effective for helping young children calm down and regain control of their emotions, many parents misuse the technique, doctors say. Parents often lecture or scold children during time-outs or battle with kids to return to a time-out chair. But giving a child any attention during a time-out will render the technique ineffective.
Another problem is that parents miscalculate how long a time-out should last. A child in an extended time-out will become bored and start to misbehave again to win attention. Doctors advise no more than a minute of time-out for each year of a child’s life.
A better disciplinary method for younger children doesn’t focus on bad behavior but on good behavior, Dr. Blum said. If children are behaving well, get off the phone or stop what you are doing and make a point to tell them that you wanted to spend time with them because they are so well behaved.
DISCIPLINE is more difficult in the teenage years as children struggle to gain independence. Studies show that punishments like grounding have little effect on teenagers’ behavior. In several studies of youth drinking, drug use and early sex, the best predictor for good behavior wasn’t punishment, but parental monitoring and involvement. The best methods of keeping teenagers out of trouble are knowing where they are, knowing who is with them, and spending time with them regularly.
That doesn’t mean teenagers shouldn’t be punished. But parents should set clear rules that allow children to earn or lose privileges, which gives them a sense that they control their destiny.
“You don’t want kids to feel victimized or punished,” said Dr. Ginsburg of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “You want them to understand that the freedoms they get are directly related to how they demonstrate responsibility.”
Dr. Barkin said she believed the problem of ineffective discipline was getting worse, in part because reinforcing good behavior is far more time-consuming than punishment. Dr. Barkin noted that busy parents juggling work and family demands often are distracted by cellphones, e-mail and other media.
“We have these new forms of technology which urge us to be working all the time,” Dr. Barkin said. “We are a distracted society. It’s harder to turn off the media and turn on that personal engagement.”
Source: New York Times