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Why Discipline Is Hard to Give
It's difficult to offer instruction on how to dole out discipline because it requires patience to give, attention to receive, and practice to accomplish. You may sometimes find it easier to do something for a child rather than teach her to do it for herself. Careful instruction is an investment in your child's future. If you take the time to teach your child to tie her shoes now, you'll not only give her a skill and a sense of competence, but improve her self-sufficiency in the long run.
Making the Most of Discipline
Disciplining a child is a tough parenting skill to learn because neither you nor the child welcomes this negative focus in the relationship. As a parent, however, you know that every wrong your child commits is an opportunity to teach your child what is right. Thus, although you wish your child didn't draw on the bathroom mirror with your lipstick, you took this opportunity to teach her about the privacy of your belongings, where it was inappropriate to color, and how people must clean up when they make a mess.
Problems Can Alter a Parent's Outlook
Parents need to be on guard when a discipline problem arises-on guard against their own actions. When a child does wrong, a parent can also go wrong in response. Discipline problems can affect the way a parent behaves in a way that makes the situation worse, not better. A discipline problem can cause parents to:
*Develop a negative perception of the child: "He was born to make trouble." (No child is born to make trouble.)
*Make generalizations about the child instead of sticking to specifics: "She has no respect for what I say!" (The child was simply arguing about being disallowed a snack before supper.)
*Narrow their perception of the child: "All he ever does is wrong!" (The parent ignores all the child does right.)
*Take personally what is not personally meant: "Why is she tormenting me this way when I'm so tired?" (The child is too preoccupied with herself to consider the effect of her arguing on others.)
*Feel helpless and hopeless: "We've tried everything and nothing works!" (No parents have ever tried every management alternative; they have only grown tired and run out of the will to try anything else.)
If you become so fixated on the problem that your view of the child is negatively altered, get support. Ask a friend to help you list ten things that are going right in your child's life, and ten qualities in your child that you value. This exercise can help restore perspective.