Fatherhood: Loving Discipline

September 14, 2022

Loving to discipline a child is a unique concept, and it is understandable to be skeptical of it.  But stick with us because we think you will end up “loving discipline” after reading this post.

So, the question is… How can we be good fathers and love disciplining our children at the same time?  Let’s start with defining discipline. According to Merriam-Webster, Discipline is training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.  So, looking at that through the lens of fatherhood, discipline is a structure that adults set up for a child to allow them to learn to fit into the real world happily and effectively.

Now that we have defined discipline, we have to ask a second question… What does “loving discipline” mean?

The goal of disciplining a child, especially a young one, is the same; to keep them safe while they are growing up and learning about life.  Where does this goal stem from?  It stems from the love we have for our children and our desire for them to grow into the best version of themselves.  From that, you can then see the connection between loving our children and also loving discipline.  When we approach disciplining our children from a loving place, we are doing it in the right way and for the right reasons, therefore causing us to “lovingly discipline” our children.  In short, loving discipline is setting boundaries, following up with appropriate consequences, and giving praise to help our children grow into healthy adults.

Why do children need Loving Discipline?  Children typically do not intuitively make good decisions on their own, so they need our help as parents.  Here are four reasons that children can benefit from loving discipline.  First, lovingly disciplining our children helps them manage anxiety.  Second, loving discipline teaches children to manage their emotions.  Third, lovingly disciplining our children helps them to grow into successful adults.  Fourth, children need loving discipline to be happy.

We do this by providing loving discipline to their negative behaviors, such as hitting, while guiding them through their big feelings, such as anger.  This parenting approach will help them to have a healthy and fulfilling childhood. Without loving discipline, and the boundaries it teaches, they may feel disconnected and not know what their limits are; which may cause them to act out in very inappropriate ways.

Before starting a “loving discipline” plan with your child, there are certain things you need to decide.  First, both parents need to be united.  It is crucial that you are both on the same page and willing to talk as situations change.  Second, you need to be consistent.  Without consistency from both parents, a child may be confused and potentially use it against you.

Research shows that children need structure, which means that we, as parents, need structure too. Part of creating structure for our children is creating a safe environment for them by taking away temptations or things that could hurt them.  We recommend that you set age-appropriate boundaries.  Your child needs to understand that boundaries or rules have both positive and negative consequences.  Explain the positive reasons to follow the rules and correctional discipline that will occur for breaking them.  Some examples of positive discipline are as follows: distracting a child with a toy, rewarding and praising your child when you see them behaving appropriately, and treating mistakes as opportunities to learn.  Instead of corrective discipline, talk to your child gently and lovingly about the behavior you want to see.

Some examples of correctional discipline involve voice tone.  Research shows that a change in voice tone is one of the most effective ways of getting a child’s attention.  This does not mean yelling, but using a firm corrective tone.  Time-out, or time away from toys and/or the things they love, will effectively reinforce the behavior you want from them.  Another example of correctional discipline is removing privileges, such as taking away TV or video game privileges.  Introducing logical consequences allows the child to experience the logical results of their actions. An example of that would be when they purposely break a toy, and that action results in the toy being thrown away.  Another example would be that when they mistreat or hit a friend, it results in the friend not wanting to play anymore.

Being a father is hard work, but the opportunity to love and guide a child into a successful and happy adult is an amazing reward as a result.  Did you know we can help you to learn to love discipline in your home?  Our fatherhood program, Fathers in Training (FIT), was created to parallel our Earn While You Learn program for mothers.  FIT is a free program that will challenge you to be the best father you can be by walking alongside you through our skill-building classes and mentorship.  If you are interested in enrolling in our FIT program, contact us today!

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