All you have to do is Google “child discipline” and you’ll find tons of websites and advertisements about managing your child’s behavior. There are countless choices and many make some pretty strong claims. So what’s the truth here? Is there really a child discipline program that can turn your child’s behavior around 180 degrees?
Let me give you my credentials for speaking on the subject. I’m a mom of three girls under the age of ten, so I’ve done my fair share of disciplining. Also, I am a mental health counselor with experience doing intense in-home family therapy. With all that out of the way, I’ll also say that I haven’t reviewed any of the more well-known discipline programs out there. What I can say is this – no child discipline program is one-size-fits-all. No program will work for everyone. Nothing cures bad behavior for good. Anyone trying to tell you these things is selling you a false promise.
I’m not saying there aren’t useful techniques and information in all kinds of self help books, behavior programs, etc. There are so many good resources out there for parenting and discipline. If you are having some real challenges, you know it’s time to try new things and get a different perspective.
Before looking into a certain approach, do more research to understand possible and likely causes for repeated misbehavior. A child reacting to a death in the family needs to be treated differently than a child who’s been overindulged by their parents. Undiagnosed vision and hearing problems, reactions to food allergies, stress about being bullied, developmental disorders, and learning disabilities can all cause odd or even defiant behavior in children. Having one of these issues is NOT an excuse to allow bad behavior. But a cookie-cutter approach won’t be the best for all of these problems either.
The best advice here is to have an open mind. Read a variety of books, try counseling, try other self-help options if need be. Just don’t let yourself get too caught up in a magic bullet “we have the total answer” sell-job. If the methods don’t feel right to you or you don’t understand, ask questions. Ask your doctor, ask a family therapy specialist, do research on reputable websites.
Actually if any of you have books, programs, or good family therapy outcomes, please share. At the very least, it might give others some good ideas to start with.