8 Steps to Loving Your Child Through Purposeful Discipline
Dr. Domenick J. Maglio, is an educator and psychologist with over 45 years experience. He recently wrote In-Charge Parenting: In a P.C. Nation where he shares his tried-and-tested ideas for parenting and purposeful discipline.
So, what is purposeful discipline? According to Dr. Maglio, when parents intentionally discipline their child to alter a destructive behavior, parents are expressing love toward their child through discipline. The reason for using purposeful discipline is not for punishment. It is for parents to provide children with teaching that will develop moral values and behaviors.
To use purposeful discipline, follow these eight steps:
- Be in charge
Raising a child is a responsibility! A child is not your friend or your equal. Parents who try to be equals with their children lose their authority as parents.
- Role model moral values
Most parents already have a firm set of moral values. Parents need to believe that these values are positive for the development of their child. And most importantly, they need to model these values and behaviors in their daily lives.
- Communicate the positives of moral values
Define the general values you want your child to internalize, then lead by example. The more you communicate these parameters, the clearer and more focused your child’s understanding of what his parents expect from him will be.
- Set limits and expectations
Parents set limits and expectations for their children all the time. But sometimes kids forget. So, observe your child’s behavior. You may see that your child often wanders outside of the established parameters. If you see a discrepancy between the parameter (desired value) and the child’s inappropriate behavior, review the rules with your child.
- Prepare the child with anticipated consequences
Establish consequences for breaking the rules early on so that children can anticipate a punishment or reward. For example, if you are visiting relatives, prepare your children to your expectations for the situation. Let them know what will happen both if they follow the rules and if they don't. By spelling out your expectations ahead of time, you increase the probability of your children following the rules.
- Debrief after the event
After an event, parents should talk to their children about how it went. Be specific. For example:
“You behaved so well in church when you sat quietly.”
“I noticed you were polite to Grandma, saying please and thank you.”
“Seems like you had some trouble following the rules at the restaurant. You got out of your seat a lot.”
Furthermore, being specific lets you review expectations and remind your child of any rewards and/or consequences.
- Administer consequences
If you talk to your child about rewards or punishments, you need to follow through. Using consequences, both rewards and punishments, shows you are committed to enforcing rules. As a result, you maintain your authority as a parent.
- Discuss the purpose of discipline
Finally, if you discipline your child, tell them the reason. This increases his understanding and decreases resentment. Also, you can explain how his choices affect the family, friends, and his own development as a person. The younger the child, the simpler the explanation. The older the child, the more complex the explanation can be.
Dr. Magilo says providing a child with values is an expression of love. Therefore, parents who consciously pass on their wisdom through purposeful discipline will create a child who is internalizing the process of becoming self-disciplined and will lead to better behavior without prompting.