Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to discipline effectively

Regardless of the age of your stepchildren, it is important to remember that disciplining, above all, means guiding and teaching...
If you can grab ahold of that concept you have a much better chance of :

(a) Assuring that your discipline is not perceived (either by your partner or by your stepchild/ren) as an attempt at controlling them.

(b) Will not be overly resented by the child/ren.

(c) Will ensure that you don’t end up as your step-child/ren’s number one enemy.

(d) Is much more likely to be heard, understood and accepted.

(e) Helps you establish a good relationship with your stepschild/ren.

(f) Keeps your stepchild/ren’s self esteem intact.


DO separate the child's behaviour from the child. Remember that any bad behaviour the child may be exhibiting does not mean that the child is BAD.
DO insist on house rules that apply to every child within the home (not just your stepkids).
DO enforce those rules kindly, firmly and consistently. Children are confused if things are permitted one day, but not the next.
DO ensure that you are aware of age appropriate behaviour and that your discipline is in line with this.
DO involve your stepchild in deciding on the appropriate consequence for overstepping rules and limits.
DO focus on clothing your requests in positive language, for instance – “Please clean up your toys” rather than, “if you don’t clean up your toys there’ll be trouble”.
DO model the kind of behaviour you expect from you stepchild.
DO acknowledge your stepchild’s efforts at obedience (even when they are not totally successful).
DO express your appreciation when your stepchild “gets it right”.
DO affirm your stepchild at every opportunity.

DON’T hurt your stepchild.
DON’T use physical punishment, emotional blackmail or force of any kind.
DON’T discipline in the heat of the moment.
DON’T scream and yell at your stepchild.
DON’T nag, call them names or threaten a type of discipline you don’t intend to carry out.
DON’T give them the impression that they are the root of all your problems.
DON’T ignore them, give them “the silent treatment” or the “cold shoulder”.
DON’T take the anger you may have at the situation, your spouse or his/her ex out on the child.
DON’T allow the need to discipline be ruled by your moods.
DON’T forget that your stepchildren need as much patience, love and grace as you do yourself.

You can find a more in-depth exploration of when, where and how to discipline in my booklet entitled:Effective Discipline in Stepfamilies. For more information and to purchase this publication,
click here

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