Family Mission: Discipline
This month we're "Marching into May" by supporting the military and helping you lead your own "little troops" in your family, with tips taken from military life. One of the characteristics that distinguishes the military is the discipline and regiment that organizes how members of the military work together to fulfill the mission. While you certainly don’t need to run your home like a boot camp, some aspects of military procedure can be helpful in raising your children.
- Training and Guidance: Thorough training is vital in the military and follows a specific pattern. The instructor explains the task, then demonstrates it, then the instructor and the trainee do the task together. After this, the instructor monitors the trainee while he or she does the task, and then allows him or her to do the task alone with occasionally check-ups from the instructor. After the trainee is proficient in the task, he or she is then responsible for training the next person.
In your family, you can help your children successfully take on new responsibilities by following the same pattern as you teach them how to perform their chores around the house, complete their homework, or improve their sports techniques. As they master these arenas, allow them to share their expertise by helping to train younger siblings.
- Recognition and Privileges: As soldiers/sailors/airmen/marine demonstrate that they can handle responsibilities well and have the potential to excel at the next level, they advance in rank and are given more privileges, a higher pay grade, and recognition before their peers. Children are also motivated by the opportunity to be recognized for their accomplishments.
Establish goals for your kids to work towards in their chores around the house, school work, or extra curricular activities. As they demonstrate proficiency in those arenas, reward them with either a tangible item (a new toy or a new outfit) or special privilege (staying up an hour later on Friday or doing a fun activity). If they’ve really gone above and beyond and exceeded your expectations, hold a special family ceremony to recognize what they’ve done – perhaps you can even make a “medal of honor” and pit it on them. Recognition is about more than rewards, however. As your children demonstrate that they can handle responsibility, they should be given the opportunity to exercise more responsibility as well.
- Protocol and Procedures: Military protocol dictates how a solder/sailor/airman/marine conducts him or herself in the presence of superiors. Protocol consists of customs and courtesies help military members understand the chain of command, appreciate the history and traditions of their unit, and value the commitment to the service of being a soldier/sailor/airman/marine.
Likewise, it’s important for your children to understand principles for respecting authority figures, to value your family’s traditions, and be proud to be a member of their family. Talk to your kids about your expectations for how they should show respect to adults and make family traditions an important part of your home. In the military, protocols need to be clearly explained, demonstrated, and enforced. If a soldier violates protocol, the superior officers have to figure out why he or she failed: was it because they didn’t understand, lacked physical ability, weren’t focused, or weren’t trying? As a parent, you should consider those things when you children make mistakes and respond appropriately. Disciplinary measures require discernment because not every solider or children responds to the same things.