Shaping children's behaviour

Children are not born knowing what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They learn by watching how you and others around them behave and how they and others are treated.

Parents want their children to be caring, thoughtful and well behaved. Ideas about how these goals are achieved vary and change over time?

Adults tend to parent their children in similar ways to the way they were parented. If you want to change your parenting approach you will need time, energy and commitment. Give yourself permission to make mistakes.

Discipline Versus Punishment

Many parents today feel they are not allowed to discipline their children.

Every child needs discipline to feel safe and secure whilst learning about themselves and their world.

Discipline and punishment are not the same thing.

Discipline comes from the Latin word "to teach".

Punishment is reactive and focused on penalising unacceptable behaviour. Children rarely learn correct or acceptable behaviour through punishment.

The aim of discipline is to help children take responsibility for their own behaviour through teaching them acceptable ways to respond to situations. As they grow, children become more self-disciplined. They understand how to behave and can control their behaviour themselves. Self-discipline develops through adults teaching and nurturing children's confidence.

Successful discipline relies on a good relationship between you and your child and builds on your child's wish to please you.

Successful discipline involves understanding the rules and what happens when rules are broken.

What about physical punishment?

Successful discipline can be achieved without the use of physical punishment.

Physical punishment causes pain to stop the behaviour. For example, hitting a child with a hand or object.

Physical punishment does not communicate care or respect to a child.

Physical punishment can undermine a child's sense of love and security. They can often become anxious, fearful or rebellious.

Physical punishment teaches children that violence can be an acceptable way to solve problems.

Hitting a child does not teach acceptable ways to behave. Instead it may result in a repeat of the misbehaviour.

Often children are so upset or angry after being hit, they forget why they are being punished.

Children learn by watching you. Speak to children as you would like to be spoken to. Behave as you would like them to behave.

Shaping children's behaviour
Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version, enable javascript or update your Flash plugin.