Your kids haven’t been going to school or meeting their friends. You are working from home, and attending calls while working in the kitchen or helping your kid out with her/his homework or puzzle. We sleep after binge-watching Netflix, our kids have unlimited access to screens, and there is little or no outdoor playtime. Nap times, park outings, and routine, in general, have gone for a toss.
But now, given that we are all locked up in our houses, kids are constantly under your watchful eye. And our constant bickering has resulted in the kids not paying heed to us.
How do you discipline your child when there’s no discipline in your own life?
Set the Rules
Yes, you have been telling them in your now-hoarse (thanks to all the shouting and yelling) voice of what they have to do and what not. But is it helping? Instead, sit with your child, and explain to her/him about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. If needed, repeat this again after every few days.
Be clear, calm, and concise with your words when talking to them. Also, explain the consequences s/he may have to face if they do not pay heed. Stick to these consequences, if and when needed. However, do not expect your child to change immediately or have unrealistic expectations from your child.
Praise your Child
Our kids thrive on appreciation. Try to compliment them as often as you can.
You can also reward your child for good behaviour, and create a chart to be displayed in a prominent place in your house. This will motivate your child to earn more brownie points, and behave better.
Create a routine
Children perform better when they have a set routine. It is not only good for their mental well-being but also helps them establish good habits in the longer run. In fact, a rough routine will help you run the household with much less fuss. Sit with your child and ask her/him about what s/he likes to do in a day. Make a chart where you list all these structured and unstructured activities. Create more opportunities for reading/drawing/exercising than giving into spending mindless hours in front of the screen.
Once you have created this chart, stick it where all family members can see it. And do not forget to reward your child, and yourself, for sticking to it.
Address the situation in a calm voice, and not by raising your voice. Shouting and yelling will only make both of you more stressed. If the situation gets out of control, and you see yourself losing your temper, move into the other room till both of you calm down.
Remember to breathe deeply at least 5-10 times before addressing your child again.
Engage in Physical Activity
We all need an outlet, and nothing helps better than fresh air and exercise. If you can manage to go for a walk, please do, even if it is for 10 minutes daily. You can encourage your child to exercise with you, or both of you can dance together. It is also a healthy outlet for stress and helps clear out your child’s mind who has been stuck at home for so long.
Create Positive Experiences
It is easier to nag than to sit and have a fruitful discussion. But having a discussion would encourage more participation from your child than nagging. Of course, it is difficult to find that uninterrupted time to sit and talk every day, so try and involve your child in your household chores like cooking or cleaning. Bake a cake or painting together or read to each other.
If your child is keen on/addicted to screen, ask them to introduce you to a new app or website or a game that both of you can explore/play together.
The more you bond with your child, the more they will be open to listening to you.
Ananya is a Delhi-based working (WFH) mother of a six-year-old. The strategies listed here have been tested by her personally.