When Not to Discipline
The following are examples of situations in which it is not appropriate to discipline:
- Normal exploratory behavior in infants and toddlers.
- Toilet training — it will happen when she’s ready.
- Bedwetting — this is a physiological event that is not under conscious control and will rarely (if ever) respond to rewards or punishment.
- Speech problems — these need professional assessment, and a lot of work may be needed at home, but delayed or garbled speech is not a character-development issue.
- Accidents — an older child can be involved with cleanup, repair and restitution, especially if carelessness was involved.
- Irritability and negativity specifically related to illness or extreme fatigue.
- Report cards that fall short of perfection — children should not be punished for failing to bring home straight A’s, but you can set up appropriate ground rules for the effort a child puts forth at home, such as doing homework before fun and games. If a child’s school performance is falling short of her capability, the problem may be a need for more self-discipline, but specific learning problems may be involved as well.
- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) problems — a child with ADHD may have a great deal of difficulty with impulse control and learning from mistakes, even when she wants to do the right thing.
- However, among many other things (including perhaps medication), she still needs discipline and training to make progress and survive in the world. Parenting a child with ADHD is an art and a true test of one’s patience and stamina.
- Performance in sports — dropping the ball in center field or failing to make a team shouldn’t provoke disciplinary measures at home. In fact, parental support and encouragement at such times are extremely important