- Choose the right time
One of the most important factors when scolding a child is choosing the right time. Ideally, you should discipline right after the action or behavior you want to correct, for example, immediately after the child has hit his younger sibling. This way, he will be able to associate the scolding with what has happened and understand what he has done wrong. If you wait too long, he may not even remember what happened. However, there are times when it is better to wait, such as when he does something wrong in front of his friends, because if you scold him at that moment, you may embarrass him.
- Focus on the negative behavior
“You’ll be silly! Don’t you realize that if you play with the ball inside the house you will end up breaking something”, “Children who hit animals are bad”, “Copying the test is mediocre”. When you scold your child using these types of phrases you are pigeonholing him/her with labels such as “dumb”, “bad” and “mediocre”, which will end up affecting his/her self-esteem. Ideally, you should focus exclusively on the behavior you want to correct, for example, you can say: “You should not play with the ball inside the house because, as it has happened, you could break something, I hope it serves as a lesson” or “Animals are not beaten, they are living beings like you and me, so you should protect them and give them love” or “If you copy the test you will not learn, it means cheating yourself”.
- Don’t frighten them
Instilling fear will make him obey you and make him more disciplined, but it will not teach him to discern between right and wrong, nor will it stimulate his emotional development, and much less will it strengthen the trust he should place in you. When you frighten him, he will probably not misbehave again because he is afraid of being reprimanded, but in reality he is not fully aware of why he should not behave that way. In the long run, you will raise a child who is obedient, but fearful, shy, repressed and with low self-esteem. On the other hand, if instead of scolding him by instilling fear, you discipline him in a positive and thoughtful way, he will learn why he should not behave that way again, which will educate him for life.
- Make him aware of the consequences of his actions
Scolding the child because you are angry at his behavior is not the best way to educate him. It is important that the child is fully aware of what he has done and that he understands the consequences of his actions. To achieve this, you must explain to him that every behavior has a repercussion and that sometimes this is negative and can harm other people. While you scold him, make him see the consequences of his words and actions and try to make him reflect and understand why he should not behave that way again.
- Never compare their behavior
Sometimes parents tend to compare their children with their siblings, cousins or friends while scolding them. In most cases they do it unconsciously, trying to give them a positive example to follow. However, the truth is that this type of comparison is usually harmful for the child: it affects their self-esteem, damages their self-worth and makes them feel that they are not good enough. Therefore, it is important that when you scold your child you focus on his bad behavior and avoid comparing him with other children, if you want to give him a role model, educate him with your example.
- Avoid insults and yelling
Nobody likes to be yelled at or insulted, much less a child. Keep in mind that children do not yet have enough emotional resources, so they are more sensitive to criticism. At this age, they are unable to understand that sometimes when adults get angry, they can yell at them without it meaning that they no longer love them. For a child, yelling at their parents is a clear indicator that they have stopped loving them because they are not as good as they expected. Obviously, this can affect their self-esteem and their trust in you.
- Always be consistent
Another golden rule for constructively scolding a child is to stick to the rules at all times. It won’t do any good if you scold him one day because he mistreats his pet and the next day you allow him to do it. For the scolding to be constructive, it is important that you maintain a consistent attitude at all times and that you scold him whenever he repeats the behavior you are trying to eradicate. Another strategy is to judge this type of behavior in other people, such as when you see a child in the park mistreating an animal. In that case you can say: “Look, it’s wrong that this child kicked the dog away, animals should not be mistreated”. In this way you will be reinforcing the positive behavior you want to promote.
- Listen carefully
When your child has done something wrong and you are angry, it is difficult to control your emotions and listen to what he has to say, but if you want the scolding to be really constructive it is important that you give him the opportunity to explain himself. In this case, after you have scolded him for his misbehavior you can ask him, “Why did you do that?” In this way, the child will have the opportunity to explain to you why he behaved that way, a very effective strategy for him to be fully aware of his behavior and learn to recognize and rectify his mistakes.
- Don’t distance yourself emotionally
Many parents believe that when they scold a child they should maintain a certain emotional distance and that, under no circumstances, should they kiss or hug him because then the child will not respect them. However, if you want to scold your child in a constructive way, it is important that, even if you are angry with him, you do not deny him your affection, otherwise he will feel rejected. Remember that you must focus exclusively on the behavior you want to correct, and withdrawing your affection is like telling him that you no longer love him. Therefore, even if you scold him for his behavior, let him know that you still love him: he can be disciplined with love.
- Never lose your temper
If your child has done something wrong, especially if it is something you have already warned him about, it is difficult for you to remain calm and sit down and talk to him calmly. However, yelling and losing your temper will not help; on the contrary, it will intimidate him and send him the message that aggressiveness is a way to solve problems. In this case, the ideal thing to do is to take a few minutes to relax before scolding him. You can do some simple relaxation exercises such as breathing in through your nose and gently expelling it through your mouth or counting to 10.