Some parents may equate discipline to punishment, but according to childhood development specialist, Marcy Axness, parents may need to reexamine their views on discipline. She suggests that parents look at discipline as a chance to assert leadership with their child. Asserting leadership can be done by imitation, redirection and habituation. Parents need to model the right behavior for their child, and in the cases of school-age children who are very young, redirect them when they are doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. Habituation is the ability for parents to be consistent in modeling proper behavior and redirecting their child. Parents should set limits and communicate expectations clearly to their school-aged child.
Though parents do need be consistent and model good behaviors, they may also need to consider initiating consequences when disciplining their child. School-aged children may struggle with trying to find their place in the world and can act out with negative behaviors. These behaviors must have consequences that are communicated to the child. As parent educator Dana Entin points out, consequences can be natural or logical. Natural consequences are a direct result of a certain type of behavior. Entin uses the example of a child taking too long to prepare for a trip to the park. Because the child took a long time to get ready, their park time may be shortened as a result of their action. However, a logical consequence is set forth by the parent. For instance, if a child abuses their computer or cell phone they may lose the device for a specified period. These types of consequences are outlined for the parent and are designed to detour kids from engaging in the same behaviors.
Entin also discusses the importance of following through with discipline because it promotes accountability. Children need to understand that they are responsible for their actions and that certain behavior will have negative ramifications. Furthermore parents can talk with their child about being responsible and ensuring that their behavior is proper. Psychologist Chen Oren goes a bit further and talks about disciplining effectively through positive reinforcement. He suggests that parents use a 4 to 1 ratio for positive reinforcement. Parent should use four positive affirmations for every one negative or corrective statement. This allows the parent to bring attention to an unwanted behavior while still providing praise for all the good things their child does.