Children who are more anxious or who have anxiety can be more sensitive and perfectionistic. They want to be the best at everything and they also want you to be happy with them. Because of this, discipline for children with anxiety has to do with its own challenges. As a parent, you can build rapport and encourage positive discipline to improve your child’s emotional well-being.
Discipline is not punishment
Discipline means teaching… because it is the only way to learn. With discipline, long-term results are sought, the more lessons children learn, the easier it will be when they are teenagers. But discipline is different from punishment in that it is more productive andfocuses on teaching a lesson rather than changing a behavior. Instead, punishment teaches a behavior out of fear of consequences, discipline will teach a behavior because it makes sense.
This is not to say that there will be no consequences as all actions have them, but with positive discipline all consequences make sense. Saying to a child: ‘You lied to me and you are punished’ has nothing to do with saying something else like: ‘When you lie you damage my confidence. I know we can fix this to improve trust between us. I need to know that I can trust you and right now I can’t, we have to find a solution to this.
Children will be able to see the world differently from how adults see it, they see it how they can, how they have been taught to do it. Therefore, it is necessary to teach them about a world full of love and respect. As with any teaching, it will take time to learn the lesson, but you will learn it, and when you do, you will own your emotions. Taking responsibility for actions is necessary for them to understand that behavior has nothing to do with avoiding consequences, but rather it has to do with being in control of our own actions.
The importance of values
Focuses on the value of things in your teachings, instead of correcting a behavior, incorporate values into their emotions: respect, kindness, integrity, honesty… these should be the forms of response instead of correcting behavior through fear. Behind each rule or limit that you establish in your home, there must be a value behind it. For your children to understand it, you must talk to them and let them know through conversation why the rules and limits are so important.
For example, if you just found out that your child lied to you about homework, think that the biggest problem isn’t it is the task, but the lie because it is violating the value of respect, honesty and also, it will be violating trust. You must explain this and why the lie is worse than the behavior he is covering up. When he understands this, you should write the rules together so that he internalizes them.
Separate emotions from behavior
It is very important that feelings are validated but behaviors are rejected. Children feel and that must be accepted. What they feel may not make sense to you, but to them, it makes a lot of sense. Emotion is always valid, the way they express themselves may not be the most appropriate since they are different from us and need to feel heard. If they don’t feel heard and supported, nothing you say will improve their behavior or their emotions.
That’s why you should empathize with the feeling and reject the behavior. It is a very important lesson for them to move forward emotionally and understand why they feel things… and understand that not always when you feel something you have to act on it, but accept it. At the heart of emotional intelligence is being able to identify and respond appropriately to one’s own and others’ emotions.