"SOMETIMES discipline, which means 'to teach,' is confused with criticism. Children-as well as people of all ages-improve behavior from love and encouragement more than from fault-finding." Susan W. Tanne, Young Women General President, 2003 General Conference

When a parent's feelings about a restriction are crystal clear and the restriction is phrased in offensive language, a child usually conforms. Yet from time to time, a child will break a rule.

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The question is: What is to be done when a child misbehaves a stated restriction? The educational process requires that the parent adhere to his role as a kindly but firm adult. In reacting to a child who violates a limit, the parent must not become argumentative and talkative. He must not be drawn into a discussion about the fairness or unfairness of the limit.

Neither should he give a long explanation for it. It is unnecessary to explain to a child why he must not hit his sister, beyond saying that "windows are not for breaking".

When a child exceeds a limit, his anxiety rises because he expects retaliation and punishment. Parent need not increase the child's anxiety at this time. If the parent talks too much, he conveys weakness at a time when he must convey strength. It is at times like this that a child needs an adult ally to help him control his impulses without loss of face.

The following statements illustrate an undesirable approach to limits: Mother: I see that you won't be satisfied until you hear me yelling. O.K. stop it - or I'll beat the living daylights out of you! If you throw one more thing, I'll do something drastic!

Well, instead of using threats and promises, mother could have expressed her very real anger more effectively: "It makes me mad to see that!"; "It makes me angry!". These things are not for throwing!"

In enforcing a limit, a parent must be careful not to initiate a battle of wills. Jocelyn (at the skating rink): I like it here. I am not going home now. I am going to stay another hour. Father: You say you are, but I say you are not. Such statement may lead to one of two results, both of them undesirable: defeat for the child or defeat for the father.

A better approach is to focus on the child's desire to stay in the skating rink, rather than on her threat to disobey authority. For instance, father could have said, "I see that you like it here.

I suppose you wish you could stay much longer, even ten hours. But time is up for today. Now we must go."

If after a minute or two Jocelyn is still persistent, father may take her by the hand and lead her out of the playground.

Parents, with young children, action frequently speaks louder than words!

Have a great weekend!