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Disciplining Children Lovingly

I am a teacher by profession. My education and work experiences have been focused on development through learning and teaching.

Discipline is one of the most difficult things to teach or impose. It is required in all facets of one’s life- personal, social, and professional. Sadly, we witness through our and other people’s actions that this is something that needs to be worked on continually. How often do we lack discipline in terms of our eating habits? Despite knowing that we must avoid certain foods for health reasons, we still fall into the temptation of eating them. How often do we lack discipline at work? Many people simply while away their time instead of using it wisely. How often do we lack discipline in society? We observe people throwing their trash in the wrong places or cutting lines almost everyday. Thus, we should ask ourselves, what is the cause of lack of discipline?

One classic book by Robert Fulghum, Everything I Need to Learn I Learned in Kindergarten, shows that much of the essentials of life that should be learned must be inculcated in people while they are still young. Thus, it can also follow that as children, some of the things that we should know in order to be more disciplined may not have been taught to us that well. It’s also possible that as we were growing there was no further guidance since people felt that we already know these things, and we lost it along the way. Looking around now though, it seems that not being able to discipline children may be the biggest cause of lack of discipline that can stay until adulthood. Check out your surroundings. More likely than not you’d see children in the malls screaming for toys, with grown-ups irritably tagging them along. Or perhaps you’d hear them asking a lot of questions about this and that, dancing and laughing, or just talking about anything that might come to mind, even in places that require silence. Are they like these just because they’re children? Well, maybe, partly. But there’s always something that can be done about it.

Problems and Suggestions on Disciplining Children

  • First: Some parents seem to think that loving their children means giving in to their every whim. While it is true that we must provide for our children and give them the best of everything that we can, it does not necessarily mean that we have to be a slave to their desires. Part of successful disciplining is being able to set limits. If a child wants a toy, then have the child work on a budget or a timeline. For example, tell him that if you want to buy a toy now, the only money we can spend is this much. However, if you want that particular toy, we can only get it on this date. In this way, it also teaches the child the idea of a compromise.
  • Second: There are parents who believe that children should be allowed to act as children, which sometimes translates to letting the kids do whatever they want. This certainly is a definite no-no. A child is never too young to learn. He should be given room to explore, but he should also be taught how to think for himself. Talk to him about cause and effects, discuss consequences, give him choices, and always explain the whys. Lead him to learn to act properly through his own powers of reasoning, not just out of fear of punishment or because of the promise of a reward. Although use of candies and sticks may be effective for some time, the effects may not be as permanent as when the child has learned to adopt the idea as his own.
  • Third: Sometimes, parents find it difficult to communicate expectations that make it difficult for children to understand and obey. While it is true that children can understand, it is also necessary to note that the way he can be made to understand is different from grown-ups.Children operate on a very concrete level.You do not tell him that he shouldn’t get his sisters’ candy because it is not fair.Or that he shouldn’t hit the dog because it is cruel.It would perhaps be better if you just tell him not to get the candy because his sister would also like to have a taste of it, and that he has already had his share.And it would be better for him to know that you shouldn’t hit the dog because it would get hurt, and animals, like people, should be treated with gentleness.From these, he might get a better picture of what cruelty and unfairness is.
  • Fourth: Disciplining has become a tug-of-war between the parent and the child. For some reason, the parent is focused more on showing who the boss is. Because of this, the child may feel misunderstood or he may find the need to rebel in order to win the game. The thing is, to discipline lovingly and effectively, it is important not just to be understood but also to understand. Why did he do what he did?Listen to him when he talks because what he says can give you a picture of his intentions and also his needs.This is where sensitivity is most needed.You have to gently prod him to share his ideas- or to let him be for a while in case he needs some time to think things through or simply be alone.But always be accessible when he wants to share.

The list above is just a few of the concerns and possible solutions on improving discipline. We probably have thought of or experienced different difficulties and resolved it in different ways. However, in the end we must remember that disciplining is a two-way thing.The child is definitely taught a lot of things from the process- like etiquette, rules, and standards.But more importantly, both the child and the grown-up get to learn a lot about interaction, communication, and respect for one’s individuality.Both come to fully appreciate the existence of each other more.Always we come back to the fact that we discipline because we love.Because we love, we should always want what’s best for our child.Ultimately, though, we should also remember that what’s best for the child should also be best for us.If it’s not working that way then it’s time to think if what we’re doing is really doing our child good.

Is your disciplining style working for you? If yes, then please share with us some of your methods. All parents would do better with as much information on this as possible.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Mary Grace


JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on November 04, 2012:

Great tips. It's easy to spoil children especially if they are yours. :)

Kate kv on March 08, 2012:

Set a good example for your children by what you do and say. Children listen, they hear, they see and they feel. Most people have not the tools to deal with problems and turn to drinking, drugs, sex addictions.

Always let your children know that you are there if they want to talk, they will come to you even as adults. Give kids LOVE and RESPECT and RULES n Boundries.

I always talk to my Grandson, when others tear him down, I tell him him good points and have a good connection through our cooking together. Give kids CONFIDENCE in them selves, a positive not a negative. Trust is earned.

Don Colfax from Easton, Pennsylvania on February 29, 2012:


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Thought I support the sentiment that too much is too much, its an age-old method that works if implemented correctly.

Jenny on February 29, 2012:

Great tips. I'm sure this will help with my kids.

kate kv on August 08, 2011:

I have 6 wonderful children and never applied a belt to any part of them...Wanna teach abuse.....Wanna cause pain, wanna create rebellion....use a belt and someday suffer the consequences from that decision...Try LOVE, HUGS, Patience and understand that there may be a reason a chikd aCTS UP OR SEEMS NOT TO LISTEN...tHERE WERE THINGS i WOULD HANG UP...lIKE WE ARE WHAT WE LEARN....AND ANOTHER..hOW QUICKLY THAT CJILD WILL GROW UP....AND SOMEDAY YOU WILL WISH THEY WERE THERE TO MAKE SOME NOISE.....i HAV 6 loving adult ...WERE CHILDREN AND THEY ARE LOVING AND CARING, NOT SPOILED AND i brought them up as a single parent..when their father wasn't there any longer.. Try baking something they like, try showing love and don't take your frustrations in life or disappointments on innocent children

Mary Grace (author) on August 04, 2011:

Hi, HennieN. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

Kate kv, thanks for the additional advice.

tehgyb, there are a lot of people who, like you, believe in the use of belt in disciplining kids. Some even quote a passage in the scripture that says "spare the rod and spoil the child" to advocate it. I am personally not a fan of this method, though. I agree more with Kate kv that this can cause resentment, especially since many people who use this method fail to communicate and make their child understand what it is that they really want to teach their kids.

kate K V on August 03, 2011:

We are what we learn.......How cruel to use a belt....

Yes it must hurt but also hurts a childs pride...It is also according to age, now a teen...tough love only way to go...but the belt,,,,may cause anger and resentment in a child......NOOOO BELT>>>>Young Man...

Mother of five sons and Grandmother of eight teen Grandsons....

Don Colfax from Easton, Pennsylvania on August 02, 2011:

Discipline? I prefer a belt =)

Kate kv on August 01, 2011:

A child actually feels LOVE when they are Disciplined..... But there are ways to Discipline, never shout, never hit a child, never degrade your child. The reward system works very well, time out and solutions are great. Give your child time and space to think the situation over..Myyyy I can see you allowed your friends to be out of control by the finger prints on our walls...That's ok but now sponge and clean, they just learned responsibility for their friends.

Another day invite their friends to dinner or if you bake goodies have their friends in

HennieN from South Africa on August 01, 2011:

Great hub. As a fellow parent and parent hubber I enjoyed your practical hub.

Mary Grace (author) on July 31, 2011:

Thanks, cherylscott. I'll be sure to visit and read your hubs as well as we share a common interest. :)

cherylscott from US on July 31, 2011:

Good hub. I like to read about and write about children also.

Mary Grace (author) on July 28, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, fashion.

fashion on July 28, 2011:

Lovely hub

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