Dr. Ray on Discipline

Discipline — it’s a word that once had a pretty good reputation. Parents instinctively knew that discipline was something kids needed. It was good for them. It taught them the basics of living: character, morals, responsibility, respect.

But in the last generation or two, discipline has received a spanking. Some experts proclaim that really savvy parents shouldn’t have to discipline much. They can talk and reason children into cooperating instead. The media bombard parents with all the latest theories on psychological correctness. And the culture relentlessly echoes the attitude that words such as “authority,” “limits” and “control” are old-fashioned concepts we need to throw off.

No matter what trendy notions permeate parenting today, reality always wins.

No matter what trendy notions permeate parenting today, reality always wins. Discipline still is critical to raising moral people. It still is a loving, durable gift that lasts a lifetime. And it still is something parents instinctively know is good for their children.

What do I mean by “discipline”? Poll a hundred people —  parents or experts — and you’ll likely get a hundred varying definitions of the word. Some might say the only good discipline is an old-fashioned spanking. Others would define discipline as teaching. The former is too narrow for our purposes, and the latter is too broad.

I prefer to define discipline in a pretty straightforward, commonsense manner: to put limits and expectations upon a child’s behavior, backed by consequences when necessary, in order to socialize and build character.

Indeed, no area of child rearing causes more day-to-day uncertainty, guilt, and frustration than discipline. We may find ourselves asking: Are my expectations too high? Am I too strict? Too lax? When should I discipline? Where? How much? What if I’m wrong? How can I get my kids to listen? Is their behavior normal?

Here is what I tell parents:

1. More than anyone else, you know what’s best for your child.

2. Authority is not a bad word.

3. Discipline, by and large, is not complicated. Good ideas for administering discipline are straightforward and easy for you to use. Similar techniques can work for a wide range of problems.

4. Most importantly, parenthood is God-designed to be enjoyed. We’re all in this together. We share the same worries and frustrations. So let’s lighten up, laugh more, and love our children enough to do what’s best for them — and for us, too.

You can learn more about Dr. Ray Guarendi and his work at www.drray.com.

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About the Author

Dr. Ray Guarendi is a father of 10, clinical psychologist, author, public speaker and radio host. His radio show ― "The Doctor Is In" ― can be heard weekdays. Please see our radio affiliate listings (Ave Maria Radio & EWTN Radio) for a station in your area. You can also listen live online or on Sirius satellite radio, channel 160. Dr. Ray's experience includes school districts, Head Start programs, mental health centers, substance abuse programs, inpatient psychiatric centers, juvenile courts, and a private practice. Dr. Ray has been a regular guest on national radio and television, including Oprah, Joan Rivers, Scott Ross Prime Time, 700 Club, Gordon Elliot, and CBS This Morning. He's appeared on regional radio and television shows in over 40 states and Canada. He has been the program psychologist for Cleveland's Morning Exchange, Pittsburgh 2-Day, and AM Indiana. He has written several books, including Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime, You’re a Better Parent Than You Think!, now in its twenty-fifth printing, Back to the Family, Good Discipline, Great Teens, Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It and his newest book, Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards.

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