Think back to the time when you were in junior high or high school. Can you remember a time when you were chit-chatting with your friends or passing a note and your teacher publicly called you out? How did you feel? I tried to be a good student, but that still happened to me. To this day I remember how foolish I felt -- how stupid I felt.
When we discipline our children, perhaps we don’t stop to think about how we’re disciplining and what effect that might have on their self-esteem -- for good or bad. I am pretty sure we’ve all heard about focusing on ‘positive reinforcement’, but being realistic we know we cannot completely ignore a child’s negative behaviors and hope they won’t burn down the house. What that means is we are bound to lecture, punish, yell, or give a time-out at some point in their formative years.
The challenge becomes making sure we say what needs to be said in the most positive and loving way. It doesn’t mean we pretend it wasn’t as bad as it was when Tommy bloodied Susan’s mouth with that toy -- it just means we don’t belittle our children when teaching them right from wrong.
Some basic ways to do this can include:
o NEVER calling a child names of any sort. “Stupid” is most especially out of the question.
o Talking to your children with respect. Don’t talk down to them. Do not belittle them.
o Having a level head (or giving yourself some time to think) when disciplining so emotions don’t lead you to say something cruel.
o Try to understand why they did what they did so you can be understanding, but not justifying.
o Show your child love through the whole discipline process (D&C 121: 41-43)
o Focus on why their ACTIONS were bad, but THEY aren’t personally bad.
o After discussing why what they did was wrong, turn the focus toward more positive choices.
Russell M. Nelson, after quoting D&C 121:41-43, once said, “When a child needs correction, you might ask yourself, ‘What can I say or do that would persuade him or her to choose a better way?’ When giving necessary correction, do it quietly, privately, lovingly, and not publicly. If a rebuke is required, show an increase in love promptly so that seeds of resentment may not remain. To be persuasive, your love must be sincere and your teachings based on divine doctrine and correct principles. Do not try to control your children. Instead, listen to them, help them to learn the gospel, inspire them, and lead them” (italics added, "Salvation and Exaltation", Ensign, May 2008, 7–10).
Remember when disciplining that you intend for what you say to stick with them --you want them to remember what happened when they made a bad choice. Therefore, make sure everything you are saying is something you actually want to stick with them.
How do you show your children love and respect while you discipline them?
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