When to Discipline a Child

Discipline is not fun but it is mandatory for your child’s safety and success. It also keeps people from hating you and your kid. I can remember so many times being in a restaurant and a child would be going off. I’m not talking about a child that does not feel well and the parents are addressing the situation the best they can. I’m talking about those little darlings that go into brat mode and are throwing a fit. This situation is heightened by parents that do nothing. I want to go over to the parents and politely explain that little Damien would stop ruining the meals of everyone in the restaurant if they would take the child to the bathroom or outside and deal with it. 

That kind of behavior was never tolerated at my house when I was little, nor did I tolerate that from my kids. It’s not a matter of beating and terrifying a kid. It is a matter of setting the rules early. It is also about being consistent. Not every kid needs corporal punish, some DO. You will have to gage that need for your specific child. 

All three of my kids were different in the discipline category. My oldest wanted to be a parent pleaser. He was easy to steer in the right direction. My middle child, just the opposite. It was like he could not sleep well unless the evening ended in his demise. My baby girl, I could say her name and it would stop her in her tracks.

So when do you start? You start from the moment that you find out that you are going to be a dad. You and your bride need to have discussions. The two of you need to make a plan. You must also realize that there will be a different reaction from the child depending on who is the one who executes the discipline. This is just a fact. Dad will get a different reaction from his child than mom will. Maybe not the initial reaction, but in follow up and instructions. You will understand when you get there.   

To be quite frank, it is a good idea to discuss child rearing issues before you commit to one another as a couple. Being at odds with you mate over discipline is a real thorn in the side of the relationship. I can remember times when my wife completely disagreed with my disciplining of the kids, especially my wild one…the middle child if you have forgotten. This kid knew how to push my buttons. There were many times that I had to give myself let alone him a timeout. 

Having a cool head is difficult. Our kids can anger us. It is a lot easier to discipline a child when you are emotional. That is why it is crucial that you give yourself appropriate time prior to implementing discipline. A child running into the street or trying to touch the hot stove is not one of these cases. I suggest the “go to your room” or escorting the child away from the situation whenever possible before letting the “lion roar”. Depending on if the situation allows, the time will allow you to calm down, or even to consult your spouse about the next steps.

They must know that you are in charge. Your kids need to know what the rules are and that you will act if those rules are violated. You are their parent, not their friend. You can be friends when they are grown, out of the house, and paying their own way. Through the years of teaching in the classroom, I would ask the kids (teenagers) if they received corporal punishment or time outs as little kids. During those years, I only had 1 teen that said they would parent differently when they had kids. The kids who received corporal punishment were not mad about it. As a matter of fact, most of the times they would say that there were times that they should have received worse than they received. I thought this was odd of this generation. This was exactly the way I felt as a child of the 70s…teen of the 80s. 

I asked those with strict parents how they felt about their upbringing. I received answers like “I knew they loved me”, “I always felt safe”, and “if my dad would not have taught me that way, I probably would have ended up seriously hurt or worse”. Those who had inconsistent discipline, if any would say things like “my parents don’t give a crap about what I do”. What? That was heavy. I understand that cultures can be different. I know that all homes can be different. However, this was my finding throughout the years in front of a classroom. Those that had strict parents felt loved and secure. They never said that they didn’t get mad at their parents. They were saying that their parents did the right thing.

Let’s discuss the elephant or a$$hole in the back of mind. What about abusers? What about crappy dads that beat/abuse their kids? I get it. These fathers need a lesson that is best for me not to talk about here. They do exist. I hate it. However, it also upsets me to see dads that won’t discipline. They give some of the lamest excuses. Check out this article from Very Well Family about the excuses given.

Your kids need for you to be strong. They need a dad that not only loves them but one that will also install the proper lessons for their well-being…even if the lesson is not pleasant at the time. Being the best dad possible means hard work. Some of the work is not fun or pleasant. However, your kids need you in this manner. Whether they know it or not.