Limits - Discipline

Common discipline mistakes that are very toxic to children


The word discipline etymologically comes from the Latin 'discipulus' and means to impose a necessary order to be able to carry out an apprenticeship. In the upbringing and education of children, discipline is not only necessary, but essential. Parents should strive to apply it in the best way so that their children grow up with a healthy and strong self-esteem. Therefore, we cannot lose sight of some discipline errors that can be very toxic to children.

The exercise of discipline makes it easier for the child to become a disciple, that is, that is able to learn. To do this, you need to know what the limits are, the rules of your environment, what is right and what is wrong, that your actions have consequences and what they are in each case.

This enables you to understand your environment as something apprehensible, something that you can understand, that is reasonably stable, and that you can control. All of this is MOST important for the child to build a healthy and strong self-esteem.

The problem is that sometimes the word discipline is wrong is associated only with authoritarianism and punishment, and this is just one way of doing it that is certainly not the best. At the end of the 20th century, some psychologists such as Jane Nelsen coined the term positive discipline and proposed an educational model based on its principles.

There are three very common behaviors that parents should pay close attention to in order to eliminate them from their way of exercising discipline on a day-to-day basis. These are:

- Label
It is when faced with a behavior that we want to correct, we refer to the child with a global and permanent definition of his person. Labeling children is saying things like: 'You are mean', 'You are lazy', 'You are unbearable'.

We do not rate the behavior, we rate the child as a whole. Indicating what the child has to improve is necessary but, in good application of discipline, we must pay attention to always and only talk about behavior, not of the child in its essence. Differentiating this is very important for building good self-esteem.

- To threat
Sometimes when we are angry we lose control over what we say and we can fall into making threats to children. It is a form of violence, sometimes subtle but always very powerful and with devastating effects on children's self-esteem. Causes fear, in the most serious cases true terror, and makes them perceive their closest environment as hostile, where something bad can happen.

- Compare
Trying to correct a behavior and seeking to have an impact on the minor to change what we want, we compare him with a brother, friend ... even with ourselves (father or mother). The message and what is implicit in it is very harmful since we are denying the child in favor of that other with whom we compare him.

These three things are done very frequently on a day-to-day basis, even conscious parents committed to seeking excellence in their work can fall into them at any given moment with the stress of daily routines. However, it is important to be vigilant to minimize them since have very negative effects on the construction of the child's ego and consequently in their self-concept and self-esteem.

But, in addition, parents must bear in mind that there are two forms of discipline that are very toxic for children and, therefore, harm their mental health.

- Authoritarianism and discipline based on punishment
It only generates fear in the child, it obeys because it is afraid but it is very far from what we indicated above as desirable for its development. The child who grows up in fear usually harbors resentment and violence within him.

- Negligence and the absence of limits
An environment without rules and without limits, where anything goes, there is no structure, roles, or consequences, it is an environment that produces children who suffer a lot because they cannot anchor themselves in anything, they cannot apprehend their environment.

If each of the previous forms were located at the ends of the same continuum, in the middle point (the desirable balance), there would be what we previously advanced as a positive discipline. Educating with positive discipline implies adding firmness and love, taking into account these five aspects:

- Treat yourself well, with kindness and tenderness. Take care of communication in all its dimensions: verbal and non-verbal.

- Two-way respect, from adults to children and vice versa.

- Take care of the links as the most important treasure.

- Count on the child, involve him, genuinely take him into account. Let him know that he is important and unique.

- Invest in emotional intelligence, which will guarantee good emotional management.

The natural consequence of all this will be capable, upright children, with confidence in themselves, independent and autonomous, with good emotional management skills and what is more important, with the best tools for life.

You can read more articles similar to Common discipline mistakes that are very toxic to children, in the Limits category - On-site discipline.

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