Kids can learn to self-discipline and teach siblings to do the same.
I have an incredible friend called Vee, who has three amazingly well-behaved children. They put their toys away when she tells them to, go to bed without a fuss now, and have learned to settle their own disputes. I actually witnessed her young son calmly ask for his play toy back from a young school friend who had snatched it out of his hands.
Kids having moments
I have seen all her kids have their moments; after all…they are kids and kids are nothing but young individuals learning to process the world, and who amongst us hasn’t had a bad day (something I learned we forget when it comes to kids).
But real discipline challenges, those were few and far between. I once asked her, what’s your secret; apart from a degree in childcare/ parenting “Threatening them with punishment? Giving them time-outs? Bribing them with candy?” Vee shook her head. “Nothing like that,” I was told. “I treat them as people, not objects, and If I’ve done anything right, it’s that I’ve made it clear from the get-go what I expect from them.
Self disciplinging themselves
Though this sounds too good to be true, research indicates that Vee has the right idea about teaching kids to behave. “If you make your expectations clear from the time your kids are toddlers, they begin and then learn to internalize those expectations and expect the same thing from themselves,” says the Ph.D. author of “Raising Kids in the 21st Century” Sharon K. Hall. Simply put, children are naturally inclined to want to please their parents, so they strive to behave in the way that you’ve taught them to.
Startlingly, it’s now been proven that kids as young as 18 months are empathetically responsive to their parents’ expectations. And this rings true, those of us who remember our own childhoods will undoubtedly remember striving to obtain our parents’ pride and rejoicing in their acknowledgment thereof.
And the best news of all, teaching discipline, and as such, self-discipline to a young child isn’t as daunting as it may seem. If from the age eighteen months to two years, you focus on the essentials, and though it may seem an early age to start, your child will catch on faster, resist you less, and ultimately behave well more easily.
In our next blog; These four essentials will help you raise kids who learn to keep their own behavior in check and teach their siblings how to do the same.