Parenting is an important job and it’s key that we discipline in a way that teaches responsibility by motivating our children internally, to build their self-esteem and make them feel loved. If our children are disciplined in this respect, they will not have a need to turn to gangs, drugs, or sex to feel powerful or belong.

The following ten keys will help parents use methods that have been proven to provide children with a sense of well-being and security.

1 – Use Genuine Encounter Moments (GEMS)
Your child’s self-esteem is greatly influenced by the quality of time you spend with him-not the amount of time that you spend. With our busy lives, we are often thinking about the next thing that we have to do, instead of putting 100% focused attention on what our child is saying to us. We often pretend to listen or ignore our child’s attempts to communicate with us. If we don’t give our child GEMS throughout the day, he will often start to misbehave. Negative attention in a child’s mind is better than being ignored.

It is also important to recognize that feelings are neither right nor wrong. They just are. So when your child says to you, “Mommy, you never spend time with me” (even though you just played with her) she is expressing what she feels. It is best at these times just to validate her feelings by saying, “Yeah, I bet it does feel like a long time since we spent time together.”

2 – Use Action, Not Words
Statistics say that we give our children over 2000 compliance requests a day! No wonder our children become “parent deaf!” Instead of nagging or yelling, ask yourself, “What action could I take?” For example, if you have nagged your child about unrolling his socks when he takes them off, then only wash socks that are unrolled. Action speaks louder than words.

3 – Give Children Appropriate Ways to Feel Powerful
If you don’t, they will find inappropriate ways to feel their power. Ways to help them feel powerful and valuable are to ask their advice, give them choices, let them help you balance your check book, cook all our part of a meal, or help you shop. A two-year-old can wash plastic dishes, wash vegetables, or put silverware away. Often we do the job for them because we can do it with less hassle, but the result is they feel unimportant.

4 – Use Natural Consequences
Ask yourself what would happen if I didn’t interfere in this situation? If we interfere when we don’t need to, we rob children of the chance to learn from the consequences of their actions. By allowing consequences to do the talking, we avoid disturbing our relationships by nagging or reminding too much. For example, if your child forgets her lunch, you don’t bring it to her. Allow her to find a solution and learn the importance of remembering.

5 – Use Logical Consequences
Often the consequences are too far in the future to practically use a natural consequence. When that is the case, logical consequences are effective. A consequence for the child must be logically related to the behavior in order for it to work. For example, if your child forgets to return his video and you ground him for a week, that punishment will only create resentment within your child. However, if you return the video for him and either deduct the amount from his allowance or allow him to work off the money owed, then your child can see the logic to your discipline.

6 – Withdraw from Conflict
If your child is testing you through a temper tantrum, or being angry or speaking disrespectfully to you, it is best if you leave the room or tell the child you will be in the next room if he wants to “Try again.” Do not leave in anger or defeat.

7 – Separate the Deed from the Doer
Never tell a child that he is bad. That tears at his self-esteem. Help your child recognize that it isn’t that you don’t like him, but it is his behavior that you are unwilling to tolerate. In order for a child to have healthy self-esteem, he must know that he is loved unconditionally no matter what he does. Do not motivate your child by withdrawing your love from him. When in doubt, ask yourself, did my discipline build my child’s self-esteem?

8 – Be Kind and Firm at the Same Time
Suppose you have told your five-year-old child that if she isn’t dressed by the time the timer goes off, you will pick her up and take her to the car. She has been told she can either get dressed either in the car or at school. Make sure that you are loving when you pick her up, yet firm by picking her up as soon as the timer goes off without any more nagging. If in doubt, ask yourself, did I motivate through love or fear?

9 – Parent with the End in Mind
Most of us parent with the mindset to get the situation under control as soon as possible. We are looking for the expedient solution. This often results in children who feel overpowered. But if we parent in a way that keeps in mind how we want our child to be as an adult, we will be more thoughtful in the way we parent. For example, if we spank our child, he will learn to use acts of aggression to get what he wants when he grows up.

10 – Be Consistent, Follow Through
If you have made an agreement that your child cannot buy candy when she gets to the store, do not give in to her pleas, tears, demands or pouting. Your child will learn to respect you more if you mean what you say.

This document is produced by the International Network for Children and Families and the 350 instructors of the “Redirecting Children’s Behavior” course.

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It is easy for one to understand why becoming a published author and poet was not something I initially set out to accomplish. After all, I come from background of a child who could not read at age fourteen and was deemed unable to cope with mainstream education. As late as secondary school, the word ‘Seen’ was normally scribed at the bottom of my writing. In all fairness to my teachers, while I was in fact ‘writing’, my work was something they could not read but all of that is behind me now.

You no doubt would be presently wondering what started off my writing. Simply put, I started writing because I had much to share. But in a busy world where everyone seems to be rushing around, listening time is often limited. I was compelled to write as I found myself being drawn into deeper reflection about the thoughts, ideas and concepts that had been on my mind.

Writing has become an integral part of my life and everything I write about things that matter to me. I never thought of writing as a therapeutic activity until it connected me with myself. My experience is that writing really takes one on a journey through the subconscious mind. I write to inspire retrospection and change. I write because I am ushered into a zone where I become fascinated with the life, beauty and power of written words. Writing connects my thoughts with language and I find that there is something gratifying about the use of words to invent contributions to society. I only wish that I started writing long before but I am a great believer that life brings with it, its seasons.

My collection of poems, I’M THINKING… was published in 2013. I did not write his book with the intentions of having it published. I wrote because I wanted to express my inner feelings about my then present circumstances. These thoughts were articulated in my first poem’ ‘The Cold Prickled Floor’. Having written this poem, I wrote many others as I was taken on a backward journey where, I met my young self, Michaellee, James, the seven year old, still seated, sobbing in the classroom for because of my difficult years at school, I had subconsciously left her there as it was the easier thing to do. I suppose this is what I mean when I say that writing takes me on a journey through my subconscious mind. When I considered the timelessness of the situations captured in I’M THINKING… I decided to share with others, whom I am unlikely to meet during my lifetime. I did so with the intent of inspiring hope and laughter.

I have since written my second book, Trees Grow Over Fences, a story of my challenging education journey. This title was recently released in March 2017.

I have not yet decided a title for my third book which is scheduled to be released by July 2018.

Children are one of the most precious gifts that we can receive. Whenever I see a new born baby in its totally dependent state, I often consider the divine responsibility of parenthood. There is this instinctual drive to love, provide for and nurture our little ones. It goes without saying that the majority of us strive to do our very best. We try to instil principles that will preserve and guide our children even in our absence.

As a parent and grandparent, I am conscious that the children under my charge are not just little people that I admire and enjoy but coupled with this is the awesome responsibility of raising individuals who will not just age but develop into human beings who will make a positive impact on society. I have often implanted in my son and my grandson, that a number of university degrees, good job… accomplishments, however great they are, will always be wanting, when placed on a scale with sound values on the opposite side of the balance.

As a matter of fact, my mother and father were believers that values such as honesty, respect, self-discipline, love…unselfishness were products of good parenting. I am ever so grateful to them for the impartation of their religious beliefs and moral values. Family devotions were always a focal part of our day, something I think might ne sadly lacking in today’s modern families. It was in these gatherings we understood that there was a supreme being called GOD whom we must honour and respect- who encourages us to live in harmony. This type of upbringing continues to influence the manner in which I go about parenting.

I don’t know if you have noticed how the majority of children tend to ask, ‘Why?’ when given instructions. I think that this is a very positive thing. After all we ourselves as adults are more enthusiastic about doing things when we understand why we are doing them. I think that there is the need to take time to talk, to explain, as I am often amazed at the positive responses that dialogue with our children and young people can bring. Needless to say, personally, I am keen to detect the difference between an invitation for dialogue and blatant or subtle confrontations.
When it comes to schooling, I believe that I have the responsibility of acquiring a working knowledge of how children learn. I need to understand the education system under which my child or grandchild is being taught so I can work in partnership with schools.

Also in a world that is being torn apart by selfishness, greed and intolerance, there is a sense of urgency to inculcate in our children, sound moral values, the desire to positively settle differences while one simultaneously encourages higher levels of creativity and self- expectations.

Once I started reading and having a good understanding of what I read, I developed an appetite for learning. Studying and taking examinations were things that I look forward to. Actually, becoming a barrister at law was something encouraged by one of my youngest brothers, an attorney at law, who visited me at my home in London. Not being one to back down, I took up the challenge.

Although before his persuasion, I would often travel on the Number 38 bus which passed alongside a law school in the city of London. Registering at this institute sometime vaguely crossed my mind. It follows that my brother’s encouragement just served to spur me on. I eventually became a student of law at the said law school and was ‘Called to the Bar’, having successfully completed my legal studies. I became a barrister at law in England and Wales. Notwithstanding, my heart has always been and still is in the field of education.

I enjoyed studying law though. I consider it a great thing to be knowledgeable about the laws that govern the land in which we live. My special interest is Special Education Needs. I think it would be reasonable for me to expect you to understand why. Then again, you are more likely to comprehend if you knew that I could not read at age fourteen and because of the then education system in my country, I was cut off main stream education. I hold no grudge for the education system that let me down but, in the interest of the many children who are struggling at schools like I once did, I take the stand that the State must live up to its education policies and be seen to be providing inclusive education for every child.
While I do not undertake litigation in courts, I find great satisfaction in counselling parents and young adults … reminding education practitioners about the State’s responsibility to ensure that each child is catered for. I also take the position that the schools we build, the quality of teaching, the learning experiences offered, the content of the curriculum and the level of inclusiveness, are telling of the value placed on the children of any nation.

Also, it is of great value that the home, the school, the legal system… the State, work in partnership for the benefit of each child so that no student ‘slips through the net’. Hence, it is for this reason, my programmes embrace all of these of the aforementioned institutions.