Discipline should never be a surprise

Communication is a huge part of good discipline. Kids need to understand what is expected of them, why, and what will happen if they do the opposite. It is only fair that rules, boundaries and consequences are clearly explained beforehand. Are they aware there will be consequences for doing the wrong thing? Remember, careless behaviour and mistakes are not the same thing. Consequences follow wrongdoings but kids should never be punished for mistakes or for breaking a rule they didn’t know about.

One of the best times for a discussion around discipline is at a family meeting. State the issue and then ask for their help to solve it – the solution given becomes the new family rule. “I have a problem. There are no dry towels. They are all on the floor in your bedrooms or on the bathroom floor. What are we going to do to fix this?” Some of the kids’ ideas might be daft – they might suggest you just shake yourself like a dog to dry off – no one says you have to agree with their suggestions, but you will often be amazed at their good ideas.

Kids are always far more compliant with rules they have had a say in drafting and if they are aware of the consequences, they won’t be caught off-guard when they break the rules and then have to face the  outcomes.  It always gets very interesting when you ask them what should happen if a rule gets broken – some pretty extreme penalties could get suggested! After all, they never think it will be them being penalised, they always think it will be their little brother who gets in trouble.

Give it a go – you might be surprised how well the pairing of discipline and good communication works.

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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