The ultimate goal of disciplining children is to teach them about proper behaviour so that they will come to the point where they will monitor their own behaviour and make sound choices. Parents who empower their children with the skills to control themselves will raise kids who are able to make their way well in the world.
Giving Kids Choices
In order for children to learn to make good decisions they must have opportunities to practise. Decision making is a learned skill, and like all new skills, it usually takes a while for it to become natural. Parents can help their children along by offering them choices, starting with small ones. Even toddlers can begin to make decisions for themselves, helping to build their confidence and giving them a sense of control in their lives. Parents can allow toddlers and preschool aged children to make simple decisions by asking them such questions as, “Would you like to have green beans or carrots with your dinner tonight?” or “Which would you like to do first – brush your teeth or get into your pyjamas?”
The Learning Process
As children grow and mature, they should be allowed and encouraged to make a broader range of decisions for themselves, with parents making the effort to refrain from exerting too much influence. It can be difficult for parents to sit back while their children make what the adults recognise as a “wrong” choice, but mistakes are simply part of the learning process. In the beginning, the consequences for poor choices are usually fairly small, so letting kids make small mistakes in judgment while they are young will help them to make wiser choices as they age and the consequences become more substantial. By the time that they are teenagers, it is important that kids have developed the confidence and self-discipline to make sound choices, since adolescent mistakes can have lifelong ramifications. Offering children opportunities to build their decision making abilities is one step along the way to raising kids who are self-disciplined.
Morals, Ethics, and Self-Control
When describing adults that are well-respected, most people think of those who behave in an ethical manner and are solid and stable. The goal of most parents is to raise children to have the capacity to think for themselves combined with the strength of character required to live happy, respectable lives, and teaching children to be self-disciplined is an important building block toward responsible adulthood. True self-discipline goes far beyond merely following laws, it requires an inner sense of right and wrong coupled with the strength to do the right things, even when they are difficult. As adults know, the most ethically and morally correct actions are not always the easiest ones, so teaching kids, step by step, to make sound choices starts them off on the right foot to become the types of adults that can make tough choices.