Have you ever sent your child to a timeout only for him to come right out and repeat the behavior? Have you ever felt like every time you take a toy away, he continues to use it inappropriately? For any correction to work, you must ensure your child is learning from the experience.
This is Childwise Principle #10: “If learning didn’t take place, correction didn’t happen.”
Understand the difference between discipline and punishment. The true intent behind discipline is to teach. We don’t want to punish our children but discipline them.
So any correction must include a lesson. Whether it’s practical or moral, the lesson must take place.
“Correction requires explanation. Without the why of wrong there is no correction, just a random redirection of behavior. Whether a child’s actions be innocent mistakes or malicious disobedience, explanatory teaching will always be necessary,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 133-134.)
Always teach appropriate behaviors
While you take the time to teach after you correct your child, make sure you include a lesson on the type of behavior you do expect. Don’t simply focus on the negative. Say your child is hoarding toys during a play date with a friend. You may choose to send him to sit on his bed, particularly if the hoarding is accompanied by a nasty attitude.
After the timeout (and after he has apologized to you), use the quiet moment and his attitude of submission to teach appropriate behaviors. Take the time to explain that he must not only not hoard toys, but that he must share with his friends. Selfishly hoarding toys is the negative behavior; sharing is the positive.
Also teach the moral reason behind the behavior you expect. Tell him why you expect him to share and how it makes his friends feel when he doesn’t share.
In sum, after every correction, take the time to teach the child to avoid the negative behavior, explain the positive behavior, and include the moral reasoning behind it all.
“The parent’s job is to move the child from what he did this time to what he should do next time. Whatever the wrong, use it to impart knowledge. If you complete your talk and learning didn’t take place, correction didn’t happen,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 134).