When My Child Misbehaves: Deciding on Discipline

Consequences are a byproduct of behavior – at all ages. As an adult, if I run a red light while driving my car, I may be hit by another driver, or get a ticket if a police officer observed me run the red light. Both actions are a consequence of my behavior.

Families, too, implement consequences. Often they are meant to help shape and provide boundaries and safety for their family members. For example, a consequence of coming home later than curfew may be the loss of an evening out the following week! Or perhaps the consequence for staying on a cell phone past when it is lights out is the removal of the cell phone from the bedroom during the sleeping hours.

Another example is for preschoolers. If a preschooler won’t help pick up toys when playtime is over, then perhaps a favorite toy or two is removed from the toy bin for several days. This removal signals that some behavior was not followed.

The application of consequences must be followed with conversations about desired behaviors. The conversation communicates the reason for the rule or restriction. Sometimes parents have included the older kids when discussing rules and consequences. Reminders help even the youngest children to be mindful of their behavior.

The Science of Parenting team has been discussing child growth and development as it relates to guidance and discipline. Each session provides helpful research and strategies designed to support parents in their role as nurturing and loving parents.

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Gauge by Their Age

Guiding children often comes with many decisions that impact how children grow and develop, and discipline strategies are one of the many decisions.

Depending on the child’s age and stage of development, the strategy will be different.  For toddlers and preschoolers, appropriate discipline may involve simply distracting children or giving them something different to do to redirect their attention away from misbehaviors. As children get older and can understand more complex reasoning and explanations, parents’ discipline approaches may be more adaptive as they rely more on reasoning to manage children’s behaviors.

The real goal of parental discipline is to teach children how to behave in desired ways. Rewards and punishments have long been used as a strategy. As children age, they begin to understand their parents’ rules and family values and begin to exhibit behaviors that align. The conversations parents have with their children about the rules and consequences can help children, especially if both parent and child are calm and regulated. The discussions that happen when emotions are high may have more harsh consequences than when discussed after emotions have calmed for both child and adult.

As teens, parents might find that removing a privilege is a fair consequence to bring about more desired behavior. Communication will again be a favored strategy so that the teen still feels connected to the parent even in the face of a consequence for undesired behavior. It is during this time of adolescence that the teen begins to assume the responsibilities that come with emerging adulthood and is rewarded with more privileges. Guiding preschoolers, school-agers, or teens means continual communication with one another and choosing discipline strategies that respect the age and stage of each individual.

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Recognizing the Parent-Child Relationship

The relationships that parents have with their children can be some of the strongest bonds ever. Parents are the first educators of their children, so they have a big responsibility to provide the guidance, safety, and protection that allows their children to grow and develop into healthy children, teens, and eventually, adults!

Research from Grusec & Goodnow, 1994, reveals “the overall climate of the parent-child relationship affects how receptive children are to parents’ attempts to shape their behavior”. If the overall parent-child relationship is warm and loving rather than hostile or neglectful, children will be more motivated to obey their parents, making discipline attempts easier and more effective.

When children comply with house rules and their behavior is compliant with parental requests, parents may feel like guiding their children is easy. However, when children are curious, energetic, and don’t comply with house rules or are easily distracted and unable to comply with family guidelines, parents must step in and help them learn. This is the whole role of discipline. Helping children learn to modify their behavior so that they can experience inner self-control. Sometimes discipline can be expressed as a very harsh, negative consequence for bad behavior. However, discipline can also be thought of as a way of guiding individuals toward appropriate behavior. Even adults show their own self-discipline on a daily basis! A parent who remains committed to helping their child grow in happy and healthy ways will see discipline as a positive response.

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Emotions: The Good, Bad, & Ugly

Each day brings a new set of experiences for everyone, including those parents raising children. These experiences include following a schedule for the day, planning meals, getting kids ready and off to school or early care and parents out the door to work on time! The competing activities can cause tension and frustration without the necessary coping skills!

Kids too can feel a level of frustration when they:

  • Don’t get what they want, when they want it!
  • Another child will not share a toy
  • They are overstimulated
  • Too tired to express their feelings in positive ways or
  • HUNGRY

to name a few!

The result may be behavior that is expressed in ways that cause everyone upset. Parents quickly become aware of the signs their children express in reaction to the frustration they may be feeling. Many times, parents can act first and re-direct a child, offer a snack, provide a new activity, or offer a moment to snuggle resulting in a well-deserved nap.

When the emotions are high, something needs to happen to get everyone re-regulated. The Science of Parenting team has suggested the “STOP. BREATHE. TALK” campaign as one way to work through a tough time, without letting all the emotions guide our behavior. Learning to calm ourselves first can help us choose a positive reaction to the behavior we have to address!

Follow this eighth season of the podcast as we explore guiding childing and finding appropriate discipline techniques.   

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Unspoken Aspects of Discipline

As parents learn they are expecting a new baby, they may be filled with joy, excitement and anticipation too! They may also have worries about how they will ever learn everything there is to know about raising happy healthy children. As we have explored in previous podcast seasons, our temperament is part of who we are from birth! As the great guidance and discipline season is upon us you might be interested to learn that some research has revealed that “Individual characteristics of both children and parents predict the form of discipline that parents use”.

The traits we have as children can even predict what type of discipline is used, for example the following childhood traits were found to increase the likelihood of harsh punishment:

  • Children with problems with conduct, attention, and disobedience
  • Children who are more negative emotionally and more irritable
  • Children who display behaviors that are particularly stressful for their parent
  • Children with disabilities, particularly those with communication difficulties

Adults who are aware of their own temperament and who can identify when they are being triggered by their child’s behavior, can be prepared with another, less harsh form of discipline.

Culture is another aspect that figures into our decisions regarding what measures are taken to guide and discipline children. Research confirms culture influences what child behaviors we view as desired or undesirable. It also influences what parenting practices we view as normal and acceptable.

As a society we rely on adults who are responsible and accountable, thus who have learned discipline from an early age. As parents navigate the journey of child rearing, they too have decisions to make regarding the best way to raise their children to become happy, healthy, well-mannered, and disciplined! We will continue to explore guidance practices and offer strategies for the parent toolbox.

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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The Great Guidance and Discipline Debate

While the goal of having a great family and good kids who get along and follow the rules and know-how to behave when out in public is a great goal, sometimes we miss the mark, and someone in the family just isn’t having the best day and their behavior will attest.

Because we are human, we won’t have a good day every day, and someone may bother us or say something to us to make us angry. Perhaps a sibling will not share a new toy with another, and a fit ensues. These are the situations that are common in most families from time to time. Parents are the first educators of their children and are called on to provide the rules and guidance necessary for the children to grow, develop, and feel safe in the family home.

Discipline is something all adults practice daily in order to be successful, complete daily responsibilities, and raise a happy, healthy family. This season on The Science of Parenting podcast, we will explore how guiding children and helping everyone learn discipline can guide behavior so that children learn accountability now and well into their teens and adulthood. 

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Can we talk?

father son talking and walking
Father and son in public park

Talking. Conversation. Communication. I have been having some thoughts on those three words recently, so I thought I might come here to share them with you. This may take several posts but I don’t think I’m the only one with these thoughts.

Talking. Let’s start with the obvious one. And let’s just go ahead and start at the top with the big kids. I’m talking about you and me. The adults.

Talk. We talk out loud. We talk with our hands and body language. We even talk inside of our head where no one else can hear. Sometimes as a parent don’t you feel like you are constantly talking and no one is listening? I can’t help but wonder however, if the reason we think no one hears us is because the talk from our mouth isn’t matching the talk from our body language or even the talk inside our head?

     We say out loud, “Stop IT!”

     Inside of our head we hear “Stop jumping on the furniture”.

     However, our body language shows that we aren’t really interested because we are looking at our phone.

We, in fact, are talking, but no one is listening. Could it possibly be that we are talking but not truly communicating? When we talk are we truly conveying the message we desire.

Example: Looking at my phone I say to the child, “Stop IT!” OR I turn and look at the child and say, “Stop jumping on the furniture and go jump outside”. It seems obvious and pretty clear cut that the second option actually conveys what we want to say. So simple, yet.

I actually had this exact scenario happen in my grown up life with another adult. I was the one saying “Stop IT”. The other adult looked at me and said “Stop what?”. I was stunned. Wasn’t it obvious what I was asking? Actually, no, it wasn’t obvious to anyone but me. Since that time I have found myself constantly recognizing and identifying what I call the ‘Stop IT’ syndrome. Some type of talking that is too vague to the listener but completely obvious to the talker. In the end however, no one is actually communicating.

So how do we remedy this ‘Stop IT’ syndrome? It’s up to us the adult to take the time to be clear about our expectations. Why are we making the request? “I don’t want the furniture to break or have you get hurt.” What is the desired outcome and what is it we what to see instead? “I don’t want you to jump on the furniture, please go jump outside”.

Talking. It seems simple but actually takes some energy and thought to have others hear what we say.

Check out our Guidance by Age resources here.

 

Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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HELP! I need some direction!!

Did you hear it? Could you hear your own words in what Mary was saying in this months podcast? Did you find yourself saying “She’s talking about MY child! My LIFE!”

I Love Love Love sharing about Temperament. I have been climbing the walls WAITING for the podcast to come out so you could all hear it. And now it’s here and I have so much to share ……. that I’m at a loss for words…. no really…. I have no idea where to begin!

Do you want to hear about the Intense and Feisty child?  Or the Shy and Fearful one? Or maybe you have a Flexible Easy Going child and want to make sure they don’t get lost in the crowd!

Understanding temperament is like being able to ‘see in’ to the why of children’s behavior. Why do they scream loudly? Why do they cower and tuck their head? Why do they take so long to make a decision? How do I COPE!

There is so much to SHARE but I need your help to tell me where to START!!!

Listen to Mary if you haven’t and then let me know your burning questions about what she said!  If you don’t help me – I’ll start without you!

https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/2012/02/01/episode-12-how-to-parent-spirited-children

Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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