Kat, over at The Secret Life of Kat, is hosting Parents University on Thursdays. Session one is this week and the topic is discipline. So here is my two cents--don't forget to head over to Kat's blog to see the other contributions!
This is certainly a broad topic, but I guess what I want to focus on today is consistency.
That was a buzz-word for me going into parenting. I thought that to be a "good" parent all I would have to do was be consistent in disciplining my children. Feel free to laugh here! Aren't we all great armchair parents before we actually have kids?
Anyway, three children later, I do still think it is important to be consistent. If a specific action or disobedience will result in a specific punishment today, then it should always result in that same punishment. That way the child knows what to expect and can thrive within those boundaries.
The point where this became the most difficult for us was when we realized that our second child does not respond to discipline in the same way that our first does. It was hard for us (okay, mostly me!) to accept that we would have to treat each child individually. It would be so much easier to have a cookie-cutter answer to every situation, but in reality that just doesn't work.
One of my sons is VERY strong-willed, the other is very compliant, and as such, they respond very differently to (and require more or less) discipline. So to get the best response out of each one, we do discipline the two differently. We are still consistent with each child, and we do have expectations of both that are the same, but their punishments will vary according to the child. And we always make sure that their punishments are private to protect the dignity of our children.