Discipline is not all about punishment and consequences. It can also be about love and guidance. I was reminded of this when I wrote my post: Books that Speak to the Soul.
My philosophy when working with children is to try to avoid having to constantly discipline. Allow children to solve any problems they can independently and offer guidance when needed.
One way I do this is by scheduling a bit of downtime into the day. This small amount of downtime goes a long way to deter fighting and arguing. Many times 10-15 minutes will do. The main focus is quieting the mind and rejuvenating the body.
Most of the time I will take this time to snuggle with my boys and watch a movie, read a book, or take a quick nap. Okay, so sometime the nap is not that quick.
If you allow your child the needed downtown during the day, many times discipline is rarely an issue. The children are refreshed, refocused, and ready for the rest of their day.
To be honest, this is why I love nap time in kindergarten. Even those children that no longer nap get up with a happier disposition than that prior to this time of quiet solitude.
As for the times, when discipline is needed, I love natural consequences. By natural consequences, I mean the kind that are logically the next step for a given situation. For example: Sorry your brother gets a snack and you don't. He ate all his dinner. Did you eat all your dinner? What should you do if you want a snack?... go finish the dinner.
Natural consequences are hard to argue with. You have set up a system or guideline. If it is followed, A happens. If not, B is the natural consequence. Another example of this could be simply... I am going to the pool in 10 minutes. If your room is clean, you may come. If not, I will see you when I get home. Of course this only works with older kids. For little ones, you would probably say something like... I would like to leave for the pool in 10 minutes if your room is clean. If not, we will have to try again tomorrow.
Always make sure that the natural consequence is something you can follow through with. Would you actually leave your 3 year old home alone? Probably not, but it would be perfectly acceptable to not go swimming and try again tomorrow.
Another strategy that seems to work is to allow your child to feel in control. Instead of arguing with your child about when to do homework or fold his/her clothes... offer options. I can see that you do not want to fold you clothes right this minute. Would you like to fold your clothes in 30 minutes or before bath time?
Offering options to a child allows them to feel control in a somewhat crazy, fast paced world. Remember though, just like with natural consequences... only offer options you are willing to live with.
The final strategy I use to deter constantly disciplining my children is to unplug. When children sit & watch tv or play video games for long periods of time, their brains are working on autopilot... very inactive so to speak. I have found this inactivity to cause very unpleasant behaviors in my children: bickering, yelling, easily agitated.
I am not saying that I do not allow my children to do these activities cause I do. It is part of today's society. I do, however, have sections of my day that are No TV Times. By No TV, I mean all electronics. The only exception being the Nook... our eReader. I purposely purchased the eReader without Internet access because it would be too tempting.
During these times of No TV, boredom is inevitable. Boredom will bring about the most creative times in your child's day. It is hard not to offer up suggestions and map out this down time, but please do not. By allowing your child the gift of boredom, you are allowing your child to find out new interests, build a strong sense of self, and learn a bit about the world around them. Bordem is like the icing on the cake allowing your child to explore all the world has to offer. It is an amazing gift that cost absolutely nothing.
So with all this being said...
What strategies do you use to discipline through love and guidance?