Becoming a parent is the most important job you will ever have. Think about it. You are taking a baby formed in the likeness of you, and you are shaping and molding this new being for many years to come. Add to this, the fact that how you shape this new being, will in turn affect generations down the road.
What a huge responsibility! However, this new addition to your family can be one of the most fun responsibilities you will ever have. First of all, relax. Your job is not to correct and critisize your child. In the old days, people thought discipline was done by humbling children and making them know their insignificant places in society. Ever heard the phrase "children should be seen and not heard?"
Nowadays you know better. Children require the freedom to speak up in order to practice their social skills at home. This means they need to practice asking questions, become part of family debates, and assert their rights as family members. Children who do not have voices at home often go out into the world with little or no confidence, because they have not been allowed to express themselves.
Of course, practicing social etiquette at home does not mean there are no rules or authority in the home. Far from it. So this brings up the looming question: "what is discipline?" Surely, you must remember the old adage "spare the rod, and spoil the child." This saying guided many parents in the past. However, the rod meant the guiding staff in the days of Jerusalem, when people made livings as sheep herders. The sheep herders did not go out and beat their sheep; they guided the wool bearing creatures over the fields and plains, and calmly brought them home after grazing
To guide children is to discipline them. First off all, you are your child's first teacher and most important role model. Your child is more likely to become how you act, rather than what you say is the right way to behave. Second of all, to guide means to show the way, but it does not mean to take over and do what the child can do for his or her self. To guide allows enough room for the child to learn from mistakes. Again, you are permitting your child to practice growing up under your watchful guiding gaze, but you are refusing to do everything for your child. Parents who do everything for their child "spare" guidance and instead, cripple the growth of their child.
It is important to be gentle with your children and enjoy them. Their childhoods are foundations for the rest of their lives. Good memories are important in order for children to evolve into happy adults. Hearing encouraging words and being able to talk to parents, are two forms of excellent guidance.
Yes, giving consequences for wrong choices and negative behaviors are also part of discipline. The best form of consequences are the "natural ones," the ones that teach children how the world really works. For instance, if your child does not get homework completed, your child does not get to watch a favorite show after dinner. If your child does not complete chores, your child does not get allowance and rewards at the end of the week. If your teenager brings the car back late, the keys are taken away. The consequences should always match the behaviors in order to teach the necessary lessons of life.
You see, you are your child's ambassador to the world. You represent the life your child will have to adjust to as the years move forward. By teaching your child, at the same time you guide and build confidence in your child, you are performing excellent discipline. You are shaping, guiding, and allowing practice, before the world is thrust upon your grown child, who will have your discipline and encouragement, as a compass to greet life with.