NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Effective Discipline

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." That's what psychologist Abraham Maslow is quoted as having said. Common sense tells us that with any construction project, a variety of tools are required to enable us do the job well. If we liken "tools" to "skills and strategies," the same is true for parenting. Possessing a variety of parenting skills and strategies helps us do well at our job of raising children.

One of the tasks in raising children is discipline. Discipline is defined as guiding and teaching children in respectful ways that will support their development of SELF control and enhance their self-worth. Using that definition, perhaps discipline is the only task in raising children.

Those "respectful ways" are the skills and strategies("tools") that parents, grandparents, and other care providers use to discipline (guide and teach) children. Possessing and being adept at using a variety of skills and strategies makes all the difference in the world for both the adult and the child, because what works one time with one child may not necessarily work with every child, or even with that same child every time.

Knowing about the ages and stages of child development is important for anyone who plays a part in a child's life. Knowing how children grow and change physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually helps us understand and seek to build and develop our skills for providing guidance and discipline.

Sometimes discipline is confused with punishment. They are two different things. Discipline helps children develop self-control and feelings of self-worth. It teaches right from wrong in respectful ways. Punishment, on the other hand, might restrain a child temporarily, such as through fear or humiliation, but it does not teach alternative behavior. Punishment can even damage the parent-child relationship by reducing a child’s trust in the parent or care provider. 

If you or others you know want to learn more about the ages and stages of child development and the skills and strategies for effective discipline, contact me. Parent education classes and resources are available, and it's fun to learn more together! A couple of reliable on-line resources to get you started can be found at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/famsci/fs468.pdf and http://umaine.edu/publications/4140e/.  

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