Can Family Discipline Keep Your Family Together?

One thing that I have learn while being the father of twelve children and working with families for more than ten years is that to create and maintain family discipline is no picnic! It's time consuming, it drains your strength, and there is very little immediate positive feed back. (My children have NEVER said to me, "Thanks Dad for grounding me because I didn't study for my history test and flunked it.")

These are the obvious reasons why parents don't enforce family discipline. However there is also a more subtle reason; parents are afraid that strong family discipline will ruin their relationship with their children. They mistakenly feel that to put limits on their children's actions will cause that their children will grow up to hate them and that they will also pull away from the other family members. They therefore don't enforce rules and hope that the love that they have for their children will keep the family together.

This, however, is a TERRIBLE mistake because family discipline actually enhances family relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, and between the siblings. Here are some of the ways that it helps:

A disciplined family have set meal times. 

A proper meal at the table is usually more nutritious and healthy than "fast foods" eaten on the go, in front of the TV or in front of the computer screen. When you don't eat well you become crabby, quick tempered and irritable which are obviously not the emotions that make for good relationships. When our physical needs are met then we are more sociable, more accepting, and less critical. These are the emotional traits needed to build relationships.

A disciplined family eats together. 

Family meals help the family to bond and to connect with one and other.

And to quote Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietician writing on the website "Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can be a unifying experience for all."

Members of disciplined families don't wait to do homework, chores, and obligations at the last minute. 

A positive outcome of this is that there is little stress in such a house. When we wait for the last minute to do what we have to do we are understandably very stressed and this is big strain on relationships.

Another reason that doing chores in a structured systematic way enhances family relationships is that it frees time to be together. 

To do chores in a sloppy way causes that there really is NO time for family members to communicate with each other. Everyone is just too busy running around in circles completing their obligations. However when everyone takes care of their duties in a structured way, there is "leftover"time to just sit around with other family members and bond.

A structured household helps to develop self control.

Self control is needed to "drop what you are doing" in order to do your chore and to complete that chore no matter how much you want to do something else.

Self control is the foundation of good relationships!

Think about the truth of this formula: good relationships are a function of good communication (no communication means no relationship) which is a function of good listening skills (when no one listens there is no communication) which is a function of self control.

Why is this so?

Two important elements of good listening skills are (1) To listen patiently to what the other person is saying and not to rush him to finish. And (2) not to interrupt the speaker. When you keep to these rules you will open up the communication path which in turn builds relationships. However, this is easier said than done. It takes tremendous self control to wait patiently until the end of a story that you find boring or not to interrupt a speaker when you have something to add. People, however, who grow up in a disciplined home, are already trained in this trait.

Routine makes a person feel secure. 

If you don't have to guess when the next meal is or when you'll be able to speak or see your parents then you will have an internal calmness and secure feeling. A person who feels insecure goes into relationships in order to fill his needs he is very controlling and it self centered. However, a secure person has a relationship that all gain; he gives and takes and the she gives and takes. Such a healthy relationship is long lasting.

In short, it's not always easy to create and maintain family discipline, especially if everyone is used to doing as they please.

To quote Dr. Noel Swanson in his wonderful book "Good Child Guide", "Life will probably get worse at first. Unless you are prepared for it, you may think that the new system is not working. Since things seem to be getting worse rather than better, you give up. Bad decision. You have to stick with this until you get over the hump."

Stick with it and you will see that the returns are surely worth the effort.

Do I Have To Follow Everyone's Parenting Advice?

Parenting is tough work and it is full of little traps. twists and turns! Parenting young children is challenging, parenting adolescents is challenging, and when you finally reach the stage of parenting young adults it is still challenging. Just when you think you have it right with your child, they go through yet another stage and all the rules change. Raising children is one of those skills that doesn't get easier with time but it seems to get more difficult!

Not only does each stage of your child's development present unique challenges, but every child also presents their own challenges. All children are different and respond to different methods of discipline and stimulus so that what worked for the first child might not work even for the 12th one! No one who has or had children will say that raising children is an easy task. It can be maddening!

Because there are so many parenting questions that do arise, wherever you go you hear some new parenting advice; on radio shows, in newspapers and a quick Google search of the word "parenting advice" shows 1,190,000 entries!

On the one hand this is good; with all the plethora of information you can surely find answers to all of your parenting questions. On the other hand, though, it can confuse you and make you lose your self confidence in your ability to deal with your unique child-parent relationship the way that "feels right" to you.

Here, though, are a few pieces of general advice to parents that the experts recommend to help you succeed in real life parenting.

Balance your needs with your kids.

Take care of yourself while you are taking care of your children. Don't allow your care of your children to be so all consuming that you neglect your own needs. After all, if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be any good to your children. Take some time to tend to yourself and take some personal, quiet time for yourself. Don't feel guilty for taking time to pamper yourself. You deserve it.

There is no "one child fits all" approach to parenting.

Like we said before, different children respond to different parenting strategies. Time out works for some kids while other children do not respond to it at all. Some children thrive in a structured environment, but other children become frustrated and anxious. You have to consider each child's personality before determining which parenting strategy to employ. Fit the discipline and educational strategies to the child, don't try to force the child to fit them.

Discipline as well as play should be age appropriate. 

While the punishment should fit the crime, it should also be age appropriate. For instance, if you use time out for your 10 year old, you can send them to their room for 30 minutes or even an hour. However, a 2 year old child would not understand this extended punishment and it would border on cruel and unusual because their attention span and understanding is so underdeveloped. A minute per year for very young children is usually very effective.

What our parents did back then may not work so great today. 

Parents Beware; times have changed! Our kids face today things that we as youngsters could never have imagined. This makes it difficult to model your own parenting style 100% after your parents' style because the world has changed so much. Try modifying some of your parents' tactics with modern twists. This way you can hold on to your traditional views, but make them work for today as well.

As a parent, you are preparing children to become productive members of society. 

Therefore the dividends that you, your child, and the whole world receives when you are an exceptional parent are humongous. However the pain and damage that poor parenting causes also affects the whole world. Don't treat your role as a parent lightly- the whole world is rooting for you.

Why Is It So Important To You To Have Good Family Relationships?

A fact of life: People are not born loners. We all want and need good relationships with others to be happy and to succeed in life. Don't be embarrassed of this, this is just how humans are "hardwired".

Another fact of life: Relationships are TOUGH. Each person wants something and it doesn't always fit in what the other one wants. This can cause deep emotional hurt.

A third fact of life: Family relationships are the toughest of all relationships. Think about it, you are close to the person, and probably lived in the same house together for many years. They know you, your quirks, your moods - and how to push your buttons.

Besides the fact that family members know "how to get you" your reaction to their criticism or rejection is also much more intense than your reaction to other people's criticism and rejection.

The reason for this is simply because there is so much at stake; the security that a family offers and your whole identity!

There is brighter side to the coin, however; even though family relationships are tough deep down inside every family member really wants to help each other.

Unfortunately good solid family relationships sometimes grow apart because of misunderstandings or other petty and trivial matters that were blown way out of proportion.

The good news is that the proper family relationships advice can help you to resolve these matters and restore the family relationships in ways that everyone gains.

The bully victims

The world is full of all sorts of bullies, including child bullies. There is hardly any place where there is no bully. That leads to another fact that world is full of bully victims as well. Any body could be a bully victim at any point of time.

However, some kids are more prone to bullying than others.

Most Common Bully Victims

Most of the bully victims are kids who are either:

  •     Too short or too tall
  •     Too fat or too thin
  •     Very good or very poor at studies
  •     Very good or very poor at extra curricular activities
  •     Having some physical malformation or deformity
  •     Clumsy looking

Silent bully victims

Victims of bullies go through tremendous mental pressure, harassment and humiliation. Bully victims are scared of the bully so much that they don’t want to tell it to anyone. Not even to their parents.

Firstly, because they are ashamed of telling about the humiliation they have been going through.

Secondly, they are scared. They think that if they tell it to the parents or the teachers, the bully would settle scores for that also and would be more furious than ever before.

Therefore, they choose to silently suffer all the miseries and keep the bully as ‘my secret bully’. This attitude encourages the bully as if the victim is telling the bully “Come, bully me more.”

Signs of bully victims

The body and mind of bully victims work together to show some signs about this suffering. If we, as parents and teachers, notice those signs, we can get a clue that the child could be bullied by someone. Then we can find ways to deal with the problem. A bully victim may show some of the following signs:

  • Doesn’t want to go to a specific place, mostly school or playground. These could be the places where the child is being bullied. Wants to go to places where there is no bully as they are stressed with being bullied and always thinking ways to get out of the bully clutch. The bully victim starts hating the place where he is being bullied and doesn’t want to go to such places. The child might be scared of a class bully, bully in school, a neighborhood bully or a playground bullies.
  • Talks to himself or cries during sleep. The child may even wet the bed. This happens because the incidents of bulling are dominating the child’s mind and he frequently has dreams about being bullied.
  • Insists you to drop him to the school. If the child is being bullied in the school bus, he doesn’t want to go to school by school bus. For the child, it is a Bully bus.
  • Looks lethargic or sick in the morning and seem better later during the day.
  • Doesn’t feel like studying.
  • Doesn’t speak well with confidence. Confidence level falls down.
  • Remains silent and doesn’t participate in normal daily life activities.
  • Wants to change his route to a specific place, like school or play ground. Because he is being bullied on the way to that place.
  • Stops eating and looses weight.
  • Eats too much, especially after coming from school. Because the bullies at school eats his lunch and he remains hungry.
  • Always short of pocket money. Because the bully snatches pocket money. The child insists to raise the pocket money. If we don’t raise it, the child may steal money only to give it to the bully.
  • Can’t give reasonable account of the pocket money.
  • Always looses his stationary items like pen, pencils, eraser etc., and can't explain if it is asked for. Because the bully snatches these things and the bully victims children tell us that these things were lost.
  • Doesn’t want to talk about the problem.
  • Tells lies and makes excuses about many things.
  • Suddenly become aggressive or may start bullying younger and weaker brothers, sisters, friends and neighborhood children etc. It happens because the child wants to ease out his frustration.
  • Usually returns home having scars, bruises, scratches, cuts etc. or with upset clothes and school bag.
  • May threaten or even attempt suicide.

Why do children bully

Causes of bullying: Why do children bully?

There is no universal reply to the question why do children bully. Usually a child bullies when he is insensitive to others' needs and desires and oversensitive about his own needs and desires. However, each child has to be analyzed as individual case.

Following are most common causes of why do children bully?:

  •     Bullying behavior
  •     Born Bully
  •     Trained Bully
  •     Temporary Bully
  •     Hardcore Bullies

Bullying behavior

Bullying is a behavior. Every behavior is either inherent or learned. Inherent behavior is what a child is born with. Learned behavior is something that the child has learned from surrounding people and environment. Click here to read more about child behavior.

On the same analogy, Bullying is either inherent or learned from others. If your child is a bully, you need to ascertain whether he is a born bully or he has learned this behavior from others. It may be a case of mix of both inherent and learned behavior.

Born Bully

A born bully starts bully behavior even when he is a toddler, though the symptoms are milder. If we are sure that the child is behaving that way ever since toddler stage and there has been no source to teach aggressive or bullying things to him, we can conclude that the child is inherently like that.

If that is so, consult developmental therapist, occupational therapist, child psychologist or psychiatrists.

Some child may have some different type of neurological constitution. An example is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) kids. These kids are very impatient, impulsive, energetic and extremely active. These traits make them bully when they don’t get what they want. Click here to find out more about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) kids.

ADHD is just one example. There are more and could be many more minor or major disorders which need to be examined.

If we have notice the behavior of the child and we rule out the inherent behavior, we can focus on the learned behavior.

Trained Bully

A child who is otherwise peace loving and normal by birth may also turn into a bully if he finds an aggressive or bullying atmosphere in the family, where he finds everybody being insensitive to others. The family members have problem in sharing feelings and belongings. Nobody in the family is affectionate. There is a culture of violence in the family.

Parent of bullies are inconsistent on the issues of discipline and consequences. They aren’t bothered about the behavior of their kids. They don’t even think it necessary to monitor their kids’ activities. Physical punishment is very common in such families.

The bonds between parents, children and siblings aren’t very strong. Being angry on petty things, pushing, pulling, slapping is a common behavior. Violent movies, TV shows and video games add fuel to the fire.

The child learns this behavior and with the passage of time he is fully trained into a Bully. The child doesn’t even realize that something is wrong with that kind of behavior, because he doesn’t come across any sensitive behavior to compare with.

Temporary Bully

Some kids bully all the time at all the places. These are habitual bullies. On the other hand there may be kids who are not bully otherwise but they may bully sometimes. These are temporary bullies. The reason for temporary bulling may be:

suffering from some trauma like death of a parent, relative, close friend or pet, parents’ divorce, birth of a new baby, boredom or frustration, being under pressure to succeed at all costs etc.

Hardcore Bullies

The root causes for habitual or hardcore bullies are different from temporary bullies. Every such child might be having a different reason for bullying. Some of the common reasons are:

  •     Desire of being powerful and popular
  •     Pampered and spoiled Bullies
  •     Reaction to bad experiences
  •     Unaware Bully
  •     Having Fun

1. Desire of being powerful and popular

Bullies are generally bigger and stronger than their victims and they use intimidation to get what they want. They like the feeling of being powerful and in charge of the scene. They believe that aggression and violence is the only way to get things done their way. Power makes them feel good about themselves. They feel like tough super heroes that they see in comics and movies.

2. Pampered and spoiled Bullies

Some parents pamper their children to the extent of spoiling them. They fulfill all of their kids’ desires. They don’t teach their kids to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This makes the kids realize that it is acceptable to demand any thing at anytime. It also teaches them to misbehave if their desires aren’t fulfilled. They try to impose this behavior on everybody expecting everyone to do what they say.

3. Reaction to bad experiences

Some kids are themselves victim of abuse or bullying at home, school or playground, and take out their anger and humiliation on others. They may be bullied by their sister, brother or even their own parents. Some kids are bullied when they're younger, and they turn into a bully themselves when they are a few years older.

Some kids might have problems in more than one areas of their life like studies, communication, playing etc. Something or someone is making them feel insecure, inadequate, humiliated or having no sense of accomplishment. Bullying makes them feel better.

Their parents, siblings, teachers or peers might have been neglecting them. With the passage of time the feeling of being ‘neglected’ grows into the feeling of being ‘rejected’. They look for opportunities to grab attention of their peers, teachers and parents. Acting bully makes them feel that other are paying attention to him.

Some kids might be jealous of the victim because people like the victim for some of his qualities. Bully has a strong desire to dominate and overpower this victim.

4. Unaware Bully
Some bully don't even know that their behavior is hurting others so much and how it makes the victim feel. In fact, you may be a bully yourself and not know it, and wonder why do children bully.

5. Having Fun

Some bullies enjoy troubling others for fun only. They know that they are hurting others. But they do it because they enjoy seeing others crying, being hurt, in pain.

How to handle a bully child

13 steps on 'How to handle a bully child'

Handling bullies is not a piece of cake. But if we have a bully kid, we have no choice but to try everything available on earth to stop this behavior. Remember Bullying is more harmful for the bully than the victim.

The following strategies would certainly help you in your mission.

  •     Accept the fact that your child is a bully
  •     Keep your cool
  •     Talk to the child
  •     Unconditional apology
  •     Unconditional love
  •     Collecting information
  •     Analysis of information
  •     Understanding your bully: finding root cause of bullying
  •     Chalk out 'Stop Bully' Plan & stretegy
  •     Eliminate the root cause that promotes bullying
  •     How to help bullies grow out of bullying
  •     Contact the School
  •     followup

1. Accepting the fact that your child is a bully

I know it is not that easy. Nobody likes to accept facts like this. But we can’t solve a problem as long as we don’t accept it as a problem. One we recognize and accept a problem with a constructive frame of mind, our mind starts working on it and keeps finding ways to solve it. Necessity has always been the mother of all inventions. But the necessity must be accepted first.

Wake up to this issue as soon as you get any complaint from any body about your child having bullied anybody anywhere, even to a mild extent. Accept it ... and take it seriously. Take action NOW before it is too late to solve.

2. Keeping your cool

Keeping a cool mind is the key to solve any problem. If we get too much emotionally involved in this, we would lose track and start emotionally vomiting on the child. Do not scold the child for this as this would make the situation worse. Scolding is a kind of bullying. Scolding would reinforce the bully behavior in the child. He learns that elders can bully younger by scolding them. Have patience to collect all information to solve the issue.

3. Talk to the bully child

Talk to the child. But only when there is no one else around the place and you have enough time to discuss. Talk with a cool mind. Without loading your words with humiliation, insult or any other negative emotion. Tell him that you have come to know that he has been bullying around. Be brief. Do not quote any specific incident in finer details.

Let the child explain his side also. He should not be held guilty unheard. But beware. Check his story. He may be telling lies to save him. Double check his story.

Tell him in a neutral but assertive tone that the bully behavior is not acceptable and he has to stop the bully behavior right away. Tell him that you take it very seriously and it disturbs you a lot, and if he continues to bully, there are consequence.

4. Unconditional Apology

Make the child apologize to the victim … unconditionally. Apology should be one to one with the victim. Do not involve anybody else in this. The bully child wouldn’t like to apologize. He might make faces doing it. But this is a must. The child has to get the feel of the humiliation that he caused to the victim. This would also make it very clear to the bully that bullying is not acceptable at all. Let it be in a lonely place. This would be a little comfortable for the bully.

5. Unconditional love

While we are working with the problem, we need to send a message to our little bully that we love him unconditionally irrespective of the fact that he bullies. Do not assign him a permanent role of bully. Do not pass insulting or sarcastic remarks. This would send a negative message. Do not let the issue of bullying affect any other aspect of the family life. Let all other things go in a normal routine. Do not forget to keep hugging the child and telling him that you love him.

6. Collecting Information

Before finding ways to correct the problem, we need to collect all the facts and information about the problem. These can be collected from the school teachers, classmates, neighborhood children, relatives’ and friends’ children, especially who are younger or weaker than our children. We need to keep collecting the information time to time so that we can monitor the degree of the bullying over a period of time during which we can start the process of correcting the bullying behavior. See if there is any similarity or pattern in the incidents of bullying.

7. Analysis of information

When we have collected all the information, we need to analyze the bullying events. This would help us in identifying bullies pattern. There can be lots of things to be gone into. Some of them could be:

  •     Is there any similarity in these events?
  •     Are the target victims always one kind of kids?
  •     Is the place of occurrence always the same?
  •     Is the time of occurrence always the same?
  •     Does the child bully when he is supported or encouraged by another bully?
  •     Does the child bully only for one type of reason or demand?
  •     Is he always violent?
  •     Does he always call names?
  •     Does he use any particular bad words and language?
  •     Does he bully after occurrence of any specific incident?
  •     Does the child feel good by hurting others?
  •     Does he feel that he is bigger and stronger than his peers and use this as a tool to tease others?
  •     Has he been bullied by someone sometimes and feel like bullying others to avenge?
  •     what are his hobbies?
  •     What kind of friends he has?
  •     what kind of games he plays?
  •     Does he share his belongings? Etc.

Collecting and analyzing information would reveal a lot of new things about the bully. On the basis of the analysis, we can identify what kind of bully the child is. Is he temporary bully or hard core bully? He is abusive bully or violent bully? What things encourage the behavior and what are the things that discourage the behavior? Etc.

8. Understanding our bully: finding root cause of bullying

Understanding bullies from their point of view would give us valuable in depth understanding of the problem. We need to have a bond with the child so that the child can talk to us open heartedly. We need to find out what does the child feel like while bullying. If he enjoys it, we need to find out some other acceptable behavior where he can enjoy without hurting anyone, and replace that behavior with bullying.

There are lots of reason for why do kids bully. Every child might have a different reason to bully. Based on the analysis of the information, we can find out what triggers the bully behavior in the child? Is the behavior inherent or Learned. If the root cause is an inherent behavior only, we need to take steps accordingly. Fix appointments with a doctor, developmental therapists, child-psychologists etc. and explore why your child bullies.

If we totally rule out the Inherent behavior, we need to find the sources from where the child could have possibly learned that behavior. Click here to read how to find the source of a learned behavior. We need to look at ourselves first, what kind of source we are to teach behavior to our kids. Parents are the biggest influence on the child’s behavior.

9. Chalk out 'Stop Bully' Plan & Strategy

Knowing most of the things about the bullying behavior of the child, we can chalk out a plan to correct the problem. We need to select some discipline techniques and ascertain the degree of these techniques. For temporary bullies, milder action might be suitable. But for hardcore Bullies, severe and consistent steps need to be taken. Choose your discipline techniques carefully. Consequences are okay but never use physical punishment. It will teach violence to the child. It will also teach that it is okay for a big and strong to physically assault a younger and weaker. The basic thing we need to teach the child to treat others the way we like to be treated.

10. Eliminating the root cause that promotes bullying

By this time you know the root cause of the problem. Make sure you eliminate all the root causes to their maximum extents. Ensure the child does not remain in the company of other kids who help, support or motivate the child to bully. Removing things which motivate the child to bully and apologizing would break the bully pattern. The next step is to replace the negative things with some positive things.

11. How to help bullies grow out of bullying

We can’t change the bully unless bully cooperates in the process. The bully wouldn’t want to change. We need to help the bully child grow out of the bully behavior himself. Here are some suggestions:

  • Start some activities where the child learns that love and attention can be gained by doing some thing positive, which makes him feel good. If we feel good, we do good. And when we do good we feel good. Once he does something good, he will feel good.
  • Help the child develop new things to do where involvement of other child, waiting for turns.. etc.. are involved. Keep a watch on the activities.
  • Encourage friendship with other new friends who don’t bully.
  • Teach some social techniques to the children.
  • Motivate the child to be friendly with the victim. Encourage their friendship.
  • Try and Pick up some good anger management technique, learn them yourself first and once you have attained some grasp over it, teach them to the bully. It would be a life long investment.
  • Encourage the child to involve in some social activities like donating old toys and old clothes to poor kids and societies, helping handicapped children, working with mentally retarded children etc.
  • Praise and Reward the child for any of his kind, caring and compassionate behavior. It will reinforce the thought that there are better ways to attract attention of others.

12. Contact the School

Parents of bully should contact schools and support school’s Anti Bullying Programme. They should also meet the victims and their parents. This will provide them valuable information which would help in improving the behavior of the bully child.

13. Follow up

Keep a track of the child’s behavior. Keep collecting information about it. Analyze the events. Make appropriate changes in the plan and strategy if the need be. Be consistent unless the bully tendencies eliminate altogether.

Bully Types

Bullying is a tendency of intentionally hurting others without sufficient reasons. Threatening to hurt is also bullying. ‘Hurt’ may be physical, verbal, non-verbal, social or sexual.

Various Bully Types

Following are the most common bully types.

1. Physical bullying

  •     Hitting, kicking, pushing, spitting, intimidating
  •     Snatching, stealing, hiding, breaking or spoiling belongings of others
  •     Making others do things they don't want to do

2. Verbal Bullying

  •     Name-calling, humiliating, teasing, ridiculing, insulting
  •     Sarcasm, making fun beyond a point
  •     Saying or writing nasty things about others

3. Non-Verbal Bullying

  •     Making offending gestures
  •     Mimicking the physical activity, disability or postures of others

4. Social bullying

  •     Refusing to talk to victim
  •     Spreading rumors about someone
  •     Making someone behave in a manner he doesn't want to behave
  •     making someone feel uncomfortable or scared
  •     leaving someone out of group activities

5. Sexual bullying

  •     Vulgar remarks and gestures
  •     unwanted physical contact

6. Cyber bullying


  •     mobile phones
  •     e-mails
  •     websites
  •     cameras

or any other gadgets to hurt others by sending unpleasant messages, photos or clips.

All forms of bullying severely damage the victim emotionally. Most of the times a bully mixes more than one of these bully types.