My Parenting handbook

Parenting Hadnbook

Chapter 1

Chapter 7: Discipline From Eight to Eighteen

In this chapter we will explore tangible, ready to implement strategies to help you with discipline for children eight to eighteen. These are strategies are backed by developmental psychology, neurobiology, and are trauma-informed. They are methods we coach our parents in, when we are working with families in our clinical practice.

Effective discipline means that we’re not only stopping a bad behavior or promoting a good one, but also teaching skills and nurturing the connections in our children’s brains that will help them make better decisions and handle themselves well in the future.—Daniel Siegel

Once our children’s thinking brain is well underway in terms of its development the discipline game changes. Our role starts to shift from benevolent leader to co-pilot, with the child flying their plane more independently as they move into adolescence and young adulthood. At the beginning they need a lot more guidance, but we can’t expect our children to move mountains if we don’t let them get out of their seats. This is the stage where their thoughts, perspectives, and desires really need to be heard and taken into consideration— they need to genuinely feel they have a voice. In order to become good decision makers, they need the opportunity to make real decisions, and a safe space to make mistakes and course correct where needed. Know your child wants their life to work out, they simply need our help to navigate the complex social nuances that life presents and acquire the skills necessary to be successful. 

At this age, good discipline is about imparting knowledge in a way that your child will accept your influence, while allowing ample opportunities for your child to grow and strengthen their capacity for critical thinking and problem-solving.  At this stage of development, our children need some autonomy and to know they have a voice. They are their own person. They need to know their thoughts and feelings are taken into consideration by their parents, and it’s not a dictatorship. By this age, many children also have the capacity to understand others’ feelings and perspectives, but this is something they often need help fostering. They also have a strong desire for belonging and feeling like they’re part of something, so we need to ensure our discipline takes this into consideration when we frame things.

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