University of Illinois Extension

Discipline That Works

Diane Ryals, Family Life Educator

During the elementary school years, children are developing rapidly, trying to understand the world around them, deal with success and failure, and communicate with their family and peers. In many cases these changes can lead to problems. Proper discipline is a way to teach children what behavior is acceptable and how to interact in an appropriate manner. But because of the pain and loss your grandchildren have already experienced, you may have mixed feelings about how to discipline them. You've already been a parent to children once, so you know there's no one right way to discipline youngsters. But, there are some guidelines that can make discipline effective.

  • Focus on what children CAN do rather than what they cannot do.
  • Protect the children's feelings. Instead of saying, "Can't you do anything right?" say, "That's a big job, let's do it together."
  • Offer children choices and be willing to abide by their decision.
  • Change the environment instead of trying to change the child's behavior. If the grandkids pick on each other at the dinner table, sit between them.
  • Work with children instead of against them. If one child has lots of physical energy, allow for plenty of outside time. Even when it's cold, kids can bundle up for a few minutes of fresh air.
  • Give children safe, understandable limits. Always maintain your authority calmly and consistently.
  • Have only a few rules, but always enforce them.

At times you're going to feel worried and overwhelmed. Don't try to be perfect or to raise perfect kids. Along the way, keep your sense of humor, trust your instincts and get advice and help sooner rather than later.