Structure as the key to discipline in your home
- Structure comforts your child
- Structure should be age appropriate
- Be consistent
- If mature enough, involve them appropriately in creating structure
The benefits of structure
Having a good structure in your home can help head off a lot of disciplinary problems
- Your child craves structure no matter how hard they try to escape it
- The key to structure is consistency
- Your family life needs to be as predicable as you can make it
Knowing when mealtimes are and when bed is and that they are playing soccer every Saturday comforts a child. Their world now has foundations. You will find less arguments with a structured environment especially if you show yourself to be appropriately consistent.
When kids challenge structure
Kids may challenge the structure from time to time. Often it is to reassure themselves that it is solid and consistent. If the structure and routine is no longer age appropriate, a kid may complain. The structure should match your child's individual level of development and maturity.
Dealing with delays e.g. bedtime, dinner etc
Hopefully you have some advance notice of the change in routine but you may not. Some kids deal well with a hiccup in the routine and others may become anxious. Often they take their cues from you and you handle the unexpected.
- Tell your child as far ahead of time as is possible
- Explain that this is due to special circumstances
- Assure them that things will return to normal
Changes in structure as they get older e.g. bedtimeThe structure should certainly be age appropriate. Make sure you are the one deciding when a change should be made based on the maturity of your child and his or her needs. Discuss it with your child before it happens. Let them know it is a privilege and recognition that they are growing older. Kids adore that kind of recognition. You should not be afraid to return to the old routine if it is not working out. Explaining to them what they need to show to earn the change will help them set a goal.
Involve them in creating structure
You can teach your child to buy into structure by giving them the freedom to choose what they want to do with the time in between. You need to decide what is negotiable and what is not before you start.
One way to do this is to put up a whiteboard. Lay out when dinner and bedtime and any other fixed events are happening. Allow them to organize the rest of the time. Inspect it with them and help them make corrections. Do not forget to praise them.
Laying out homework this way can also help your child appreciate the time it takes and how to estimate the time for a task. These time management skills are very useful throughout life.
Make sure your child is mature enough to do this, otherwise help them estimate or challenge them (as a game) to estimate how long a task will take and to write up their guesses and see at the end of the evening if it was close to the guess they made. You would be amazed at how this helps you structure your own evening so you have time with your child and time for yourself.