Discipline has such a negative connotation to it because when many of us think of punishment, we think of the corporal forms of punishment of the past that our parents may have given to us. The thought of inflicting that same type of punishment on our own children makes us want to cringe…so we don’t do anything. Before we know it, we start to feel as if we’ve become the master empty threats and can slowly see ourselves losing control of our children.
Discipline doesn’t have to be spankings and time outs and setting boundaries doesn’t have to mean that you have to set rules that will prevent your children from being children and having fun. Setting boundaries can be as easy as meaning what you say when you say it and sticking to your guns and discipline can be as simple as removing your child from a situation that they were enjoying when they refuse to respect the boundary. If you’re still wondering about whether not, you need boundaries and discipline, check out these 5 reasons for why they’re so important in child rearing.
1. It helps to keep them safe – Kids are smart and pick up on new things so easily. From day to day, they amaze us with all of the new skills that they gain. As smart as they are, in many ways they are not so smart and don’t automatically know how dangerous things like jumping from ledges, running into the street and touching hot stoves can be. We can tell our children not to do these things and keep a close eye on them but at some point in time, we won’t have our eyes on our kids and we’ll have to trust that they respect what we’ve told them and that they’ll listen to us even when we’re not looking. Setting boundaries and meting out discipline when those boundaries are crossed let our children know that we mean business and will help keep them safe when we're not around.
2. It helps to make them feel secure – As much as we think we’re hurting our children’s feelings and hate to see them cry, many times when our children act out, they’re asking us to set a boundary and setting that boundary will help them to feel secure and reassure them that we know what we're doing in our roles as parents. The world can be big and scary for little people and as much as they think they want to be in control, they really don’t when they learn all that control entails. Setting boundaries for our children helps let them know that we’ve got everything under control and makes them feel secure.
3. It helps prepare them to live in a rule-based society – The world that we live in is one that is full of rules and structure and those rules and structure allow us to function peacefully and without chaos. We have laws to prevent people from getting hurt and we depend on people to follow those rules. So much so that we have entire branches of government to make the laws and enforce them when they aren't followed. Giving our children boundaries when they break the first rules that they learn in their households sets them up to respect the future laws that will exist when they’re adults.
4. It helps them learn that things don’t always go their way – As much as we would like to pave a clear road for our children and ensure that they have an easy peasy life free from obstacles, it’s not practical. At some point in time, they’ll take a class that is challenging, meet a co-worker that they don’t like or have a friend treat them in a way that they don’t appreciate. Setting boundaries, even if that means that they don’t get what they want will set them up to better deal with these eventual life circumstances when they come.
5. It helps them learn about consequences – Every action has a consequence. Some consequences are good and some consequences are bad, depending on the action. If we never dole out boundaries and discipline than our children don't properly learn this cause and effect dynamic. In the end, we deprive them of a valuable life lesson and don't properly prepare them to make their own decisions by considering their actions and the possible consequences that may come from good decision making versus bad decision making.