When kids cross the boundaries for behavior that you have set with them, it's not unusual for parents to feel any number of emotions from disappointment and sadness to anger. However, parental overreaction can often come hand-in-hand with these emotions. The wise parent, however, will do their best not to let these feelings lead to dishing out unreasonable consequences. When it comes to effective discipline, the rule, "let the punishment fit the crime" definitely applies!
Let me share some practical ideas for keeping your cool and not overreacting when it comes time to discipline your kids.
Check Your Feelings. When you feel stressed by your kids' behavior it's helpful to H.A.L.T. in order to pause and gain some perspective. H stands for Hurting; A stands for Angry; L stands for Lonely; and T stands for Tired. If you notice any of these are present in your life, you're much more likely to overreact in discipline, and you'll do well to postpone your response to the situation -- until you've had time to sort out your feelings.
Discipline Calmly. When you're upset, you're in no shape to discipline effectively. Disciplining in anger does not get kids to obey. There's a difference between punishment and discipline, and the difference is found in self-control. The out-of-control parent punishes a child out of anger; the parent in control calmly disciplines to correct bad behavior.
Be Consistent in Discipline. Effective discipline is all about consistency, but consistency is not a matter of grounding your kid until he or she turns 18. Rather it's a matter of establishing clear boundaries for conduct, and appropriate consequences, and then always enforcing them.
Empathize. Part of building godly character in our children's lives has to do with our own demeanor when we discipline. All kids make mistakes. We must recognize that our kids have feelings. We need to demonstrate Christ-like empathy and respect for them.
Discipline with A.W.E. A parent who expresses affection, warmth, and encouragement---even while disciplining---helps to maintain a more balanced perspective to the situation. When consequences need to be applied, both you and your teenager will benefit when you have created a home environment full of security, care, and love.