Discipline doesn't mean to punish. The root word, disciple, means to teach. Rather than focusing on busting bad behavior, it is more effective to teach what is acceptable. There are many ways to teach a child, and I have found that teaching through play has a big impact.
We are aware that play is vital to childhood. Children learn openly through play. Their brains are engaged, receptive, and absorbing everything. Play offers a wonderful opportunity to not only connect with your child, but to teach valuable lessons.
Here are some ideas to teach through play:
Card and board games are fantastic ways to teach children patience, manners, and fair play. Take it one step further by creating your own game. Create a manners game by using two shoe boxes (a good manners box and a bad manners box) and several laminated stars. On the stars, write good manners such as “saying please” or “holding the door open for someone” and bad manners “chewing with your mouth open” or “snatching toys”. Have the child choose a star and decide which box to drop it into.
Puppet shows do not have to be a big production. Make sock puppets and use the puppets to act out a scene and teach a lesson, such as what to do when someone hurts your feelings or how to make a new friend. This can also be done with toys. You can use bears, dolls, or whatever you’d like and act out different scenes. This is also a great outlet for your child as children enjoy creating their own shows.
Ask your child to dress up and take on different roles, such as waiter, teacher, or grandparent. You, playing the role of the child, demonstrate how to behave in a restaurant, sit quietly in a class, show gratitude when opening presents, or whatever you feel your child needs to practice. Then switch roles and let your child practice these important skills. Remember to keep it lighthearted and fun. Silly costumes are a bonus!
There are lots of children's books that teach morals and manners, and those are wonderful tools, but making up stories gives you an opportunity to address a recent problem or issue your child has faced. With a bit of creativity, story-telling is a wonderful way to teach cause and effect. Be sure to add in humor! Research suggests that laughter produces psychological and physiological benefits that help children learn.
Meeting children in their imaginative worlds is both a magical and practical way to teach them the lessons we want them to learn. A world of possibilities open up when we step inside the playful world of a child. What will you playfully teach today?
As seen at Creative Child.