Deciding how to discipline children is something that every parent faces as children develop and mature. 

Parents don’t have to choose between hard discipline and soft permissiveness, but they do need to agree on how to discipline children together. One solution to guiding the growth and behavior of children that many couples can agree on is based on a philosophy called “Smart Love.” Smart Love was developed by Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. and William J. Pieper, M.D., a husband-and-wife psychotherapist team, and is based on scientific understanding of child development. The uniquely effective Smart Love philosophy teaches parents how to discipline by modeling a healthy way of relating and takes into account what is age appropriate at each age and stage.  A child is immature, after all, and many disciplinary approaches expect a child to have the manners and emotional abilities of adults.   Smart Love  helps children learn how to make healthy and constructive choices and helps parents agree on how to discipline children by concentrating on the long-term goal of helping their children grow up to be happy, responsible, self-confident and successful adults.

Children are born wanting and needing  the attention they receive from their parents or caregivers.  Whether it’s positive or negative attention, they are motivated to want more of it and to find ways to get it. They also want to be happy and have positive relationships with their parents and with others. All children copy their parents’ actions and the way that they are treated. Thus, parents who discipline children in an overly aggressive fashion or who are too permissive are ultimately harming their child, as their child will choose how to discipline themselves and others in the same way. The Smart Love approach shows parents how to discipline children using an approach called loving regulation. This loving approach to disciplining children applies in all instances when a child exhibits behavior that needs to be managed to keep the child safe and healthy.

Choosing how to discipline a child is an important decision for parents and one that can result in positive or negative consequences. Loving regulation redefines how to discipline children. This Smart Love approach focuses a parent’s attention on understanding their child’s point of view – their mind, emotions and behaviors – and how to respond to them at every age. This empathetic tactic allows parents to have a close and loving relationship with their children, rather than a negative or authoritative one.

From minor infractions to a full-blown tantrum, every parent must determine how to discipline their children in challenging situations. The keys to success are empathy and love. Using loving regulation to discipline your child will create a bond that is unbreakable.

Raising happy and healthy children is a rewarding experience and one that nearly every parents hopes for. Cultivating a child’s inner happiness and self-esteem ensures that he or she will be equipped to reach their fullest potential in life. When parents choose how to discipline their children in loving ways, it makes parenting more enjoyable and less stressful. Smart Love answers the age-old question of how to discipline children by conceding that the best approach is not actually a form of discipline at all.

To learn more about how to discipline, parents can find detailed information about age appropriate expectations and child development in the Pieper’s book, “Smart Love: The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Regulating and Enjoying Your Child.” Parents can use the Smart Love book to learn how to manage children’s behavior in a loving and compassionate way.

How to Discipline ChildrenCarolyn Friedman received her MA in Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has over 25 years of experience in leadership positions with non-profit organizations in the human services, the arts and international relations with expertise in capital expansion projects. She founded Smart Love Family Services in 2002. She is also co-author of Successful Fundraising for Arts and Cultural Organizations (Oryx Press), a management book for the non-profit field.

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