No one wants to be associated with bad parenting, right? You’ve mastered the art of the one-handed diaper change. You can pump while you prep dinner or draft a work email, or both. You can anticipate your child’s moods, needs, bowel movements, temperature, and level of hunger. You might even think that you’ve arrived—the learning curve is finally leveling off. This feeling can come relatively early in the parent-child relationship, often within the first year. Right around that eureka moment, give or take a few hours, you will realize that the top of that first mountain (where you can meet your child’s basic needs with relative ease) gives you a great view of the much bigger mountain just beyond.
As renowned NYC pediatrician, Michel Cohen, writes in The New Basics, “I use the term laissez faire often in this book, but you won’t see it in this section. Discipline is hard work, and it’s one area of childcare that will not take care of itself, much as you might like it to. You have to stand up to your kids early and consistently.” And while it may be harsh to think we must “stand up to” our children, discipline requires that we at least stand up and start climbing yet another learning curve. To scale this Everest, many parents resort to expert advice and general guidance from peers, mentors, and doctors like Cohen. If you are a new parent, you may want a little guidance as you settle on an approach. Or perhaps you can use an update, a better foundation. If lately it feels as if all you do is yell, here are some ways to refresh your technique and think about it differently.
- Teach, Don’t Preach
Keep in mind that the word discipline comes from the same root as disciple. Disciplining your child should teach something—a new behavior, a better approach, a different way of coping. While there may be punishments involved in the process, such as time outs, that essential goal is pedagogical.
Read Related: How to Teach Your Child to Live a Disciplined Life