Are Your Discipline Strategies Teaching These Essential Life Skills?

Teach kids these skills to help them become successful adults

Discipline shouldn't be about punishing kids for misbehavior. Instead, the rewards and consequences you offer should be focused on teaching your kids the life skills they need to become responsible adults.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't give your kids negative consequences. In fact, consequences can be great teachers. 

But it's important for that your discipline teach your kids how to do better next time so their mistakes become valuable learning opportunities. Here are six life skills your discipline should teach your child:

1

Self-Discipline

Your discipline strategies should be teaching your kids life skills.
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Nagging kids to do their homework, not giving them chores, or always rescuing them from difficult tasks won't teach self-discipline. Instead, doing too much for your child will reinforce his dependence on you.

The ultimate goal should be to work yourself out of a job. Eventually, your kids shouldn’t need you anymore. In order for them to develop independence, however, you need to teach self-discipline.

Kids need to learn self-discipline in regards to money, chores, homework and time management. The best way to teach self-discipline, is by providing consistent consequences for misbehavior as well as positive consequences for good behavior.

2

Social Skills

Good social skills is a life skill that can make a big difference in your child's success throughout school and into adulthood. Most kids need a lot of help—and practice—learning social skills.

Young kids need to learn how to share, use good manners, and speak kindly so they can develop healthy friendships.

Older kids often need help fine tuning with their social skills. Asking for help, greeting new people, and dealing with rude behavior are just a few of the advanced skills your child will need to learn.

Identify specific social skills and good manners you want your child to learn. Role play how to use that skills and provide plenty of feedback. When you catch your child using good social skills, provide praise.

Consider social skills a work in progress. Look for teachable moments to help your child understand subtle skills, such as why you might speak up when someone is being picked on versus why you might stay silent when an elderly person steps in front of you in line.

3

Healthy Decision Making

Kids don’t look at problems the same way adults do. They need help developing problem-solving skills and they need practice making healthy decisions on their own.

When your child encounters a problem, work together to develop a healthy solution. Whether your child can't decide what to wear to the birthday party, or she can't figure out her math problem, there are always opportunities to teach problem-solving skills.

Guiding kids without making all their decisions for them is an important part of helping them learn to make healthy decisions. Avoid being a helicopter parent and when it’s safe to do so, allow your child to face some natural consequences. Mistakes can be a powerful teaching tool.

4

Impulse Control

Kids slowly develop impulse control as they grow older. Parents can help facilitate impulse control skills in several ways. Offering logical consequences is one way to motivate your child to practice delayed gratification.

Praise can be another great way to help kids manage impulses. Praise your child for thinking before he acts, waiting for his turn in conversations, or walking away when he feels angry.

Pre-teaching can be an excellent way to help prevent problems before they start. For example, before getting out of the car, tell your 4-year-old, “When we get out of the car, we’re going to hold hands and walk across the parking lot while looking out for cars.” Shape behavior one step at a time as your child masters a new skill.

5

Emotion Regulation

Teaching kids healthy ways to deal with their emotions is a life skill that many parents overlook. When kids can’t express themselves verbally, or when they don't know how to cope with uncomfortable emotions,  they often throw temper tantrums or become aggressive.

Starting at a young age, teach your child about feelings. Research shows that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ when it comes to lifelong success.

6

Confidence

Consistent discipline is a great way to help your child gain self-esteem and confidence. And confidence will open the door to other life skills, such as being able to learn from mistakes, accept criticism, and face fears head-on.

Establish clear household rules and consistent positive and negative consequences, and your child will know what to expect.

When your child feels safe, he'll be more confident about trying new things and exploring his talents. Use positive discipline to bolster his confidence throughout the years and he'll be prepared to take on the world when he reaches adulthood.

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Article Sources
  • Peculea L, Bocos M. Development of Social and Emotional Skills through Intervention Programs among Adolescents. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2013;76:618-623.
  • Rahmati B, Adibrad N, Tahmasian K, Sedghpour BS. The Effectiveness of life skill training on Social adjustment in Children. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2010;5:870-874.