Parents: Discipline goals are surprisingly simple

Although disciplining children can be a tough job, it can be summarized in three simple steps: Be firm, be fair and be consistent. Consider what this might look like:

1. Be firm. Your rule is: No TV before homework is finished. Your child has put off her studies and now she doesn’t have time for her favorite show. She wants you to bend the rules. “My homework won’t take long. All my friends will be talking about the show at school! Please!” Enforce the rule anyway. Your child may be disappointed, but she learns that you mean business.

2. Be fair. You’ve made a short list of sensible household rules. Your child is not happy and shares her opinion. “Dad, it’s not fair that my bedtime is 8:00. I can’t fall asleep that early.” You realize she may be right and say, “Good point. You can read in bed until 8:30.” It’s fair to adjust the rules as your child matures. Just remember that the final decision should be yours.

3. Be consistent. You’ve enforced key rules. Your child knows that you mean what you say, but she keeps testing you. “All my friends play this video game! Can’t I play it just one time?” You know if you make an exception, your child will expect you to bend other rules. So you say, “I’m sorry that you are upset, but you know you aren’t allowed to play that game.”

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