The Need for Clear and Consistent Limits (Discipline)

sharon rose de la cruz It is the right of every child to be given clear and consistent limits. Children need to know when an action is acceptable or not. They need to know from significant adults which actions are allowed and which are not. According to Dr. Honey Carandang in her book, Self-Worth and the Filipino Child (2004), it is important to use the six Cs in effectively disciplining our children:

Conviction – As a parent, we need to implement something that we strongly believe in. We should be convinced that the value is a good one based on our values. Our children will know if we are truthful to what we want to impart to them or if we are doing it haphazardly just so others will know that we are doing it.

Clarity – The rules we implement must be clear to everyone concerned. The rules must be stated explicitly to our children.

Consistency – We must set limits repeatedly and consistently until our children can follow through even without us having to tell them or remind them.

Consequences – We must make our children understand that inappropriate behavior has consequences. Bad behavior must have a corresponding punishment. This way, our children would know that we are serious and that we want them to grow up knowing that unacceptable behavior will not go unnoticed.

Care – When disciplining, we must make it clear with our children that we are doing it not out of anger, but that we are setting things right. We must make them understand that we care so much about them that we want them to do what is right.

Communication – As with anything that is worth imparting, it is important that we keep communication lines open with our children. It must be something that is ongoing so that we as parents are able to listen to our children’s thoughts and they can share important insights with us too anytime.

It is also important that we should also know that we can discipline in a positive way. For every “don’t” or “can’t” that we tell them, we should always have a “do” or “can” too. If they can’t go out with friends, maybe they can go out with older cousins. If they can’t play with gadgets during weekdays emphasize that they can during weekends. If they can’t stay up late on the phone, they can start with homework early the next day so they can have 30 minutes on the phone. Our children just need to know which actions are acceptable and which are not.

Last year, when our two older kids were 11 and 7 respectively, they always fought. Even with petty things such as body language, our eldest would always find something wrong with his younger brother. It came to a point when he already said hurtful words to his brother. That was the last straw for us parents. My husband and I thought that we had to intervene. We made contracts which both of them had to sign. The contract stated what they must do to each other. We enumerated positive things which they can try. Take note that the contract stated positive statements. There were no don’ts in the contract. It contained dos which were very doable at their age. At the bottom, we also enumerated consequences. One of which is: Gadgets will only be allowed after a week, provided that all the conditions stated above are strictly followed. After a week, no one remembered about the gadgets. They played with each other every single day. Spoke nice words about and with each other. That has changed how they regard each other. Knowing their limits clearly and consistently made all the difference.

Next week, read about the fourth need, the need for a sense of competence. God bless and enjoy parenting!