By Cortney Moore

As time goes on, we as a society understand mental health better. With this new knowledge come concerns from mothers and fathers who are trying to navigate parenthood during this age of information. The new parents of today, millennials, struggle to find the balance raising children during these empathetic times. Thus, many have distanced themselves from disciplining their kids in order to avoid relationship problems. Tactics such as these are strange to generations prior, but recent scientific studies have shown the detrimental affects harsh discipline can have on a developing brain. According to BusinessInsider.com, “Certain parental behaviors that scientists have found could be linked to problems in children, like depression and anxiety, later in life.” So how can millennial parents discipline their children while maintaining their psyche?

Here are some parenting tips that will ensure your children have structured discipline:

Discipline is important. In essence, discipline is the act of training someone to obey rules and correcting undesirable behaviors accordingly. Though every person has their own parenting style, discipline is necessary to guide children throughout life so they grow up to be decent human beings. In other words, discipline makes for a good, law-abiding citizen and a structured society. Parents must take special care in disciplining their children during the formative years, or risk having a strained relationship like famous parent Jon Voight and daughter Angelina Jolie. Here are a few parenting tips and pieces of relationship advice to help you discipline your children without breaking bonds:

Communicate expectations. To minimize unwanted behavior, make sure your child knows exactly what you consider “good” and “bad” behavior. They need to understand that there will be consequences for their actions. Naughty behavior should not be rewarded whatsoever, nor should it be tolerated. If at any time you decide to try a new disciplinary technique, you need to explain your new expectations. It’s not fair to dish out punishment for things they didn’t know were wrong.

Be authoritative, not authoritarian. Though you want to teach your child that there are expectations and consequences for their actions, you still need to have a level of flexibility. Being a parent doesn’t have to feel like a dictatorship. There’s no harm in explaining the rationale behind house rules or including them in discussions. Allowing your child to have input from time to time can bridge compromise and help you adopt more appropriate disciplinary styles as the years go on.

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Try reward systems. Discipline doesn’t have to be centered around punishment. Positive reinforcement is a great way to teach a child desired behaviors. Show your child that there are benefits to being well-mannered. Rewards can come in a variety of ways, whether it be a snack, toy, or praise- the important thing is that they earn them fair and square. If at any time you feel that your child is manipulating the system, it’s okay to nix the whole thing altogether.

Keep hands to yourself. Physical discipline has been a hot debate for years, but studies have shown that hitting children contribute to mental health disorders, according to abcnews.go.com. Though at the same time it’s important to note that spankings and beatings are very different- it’s a safer bet to refrain from physically disciplining your child. A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t hit a puppy for undesirable behavior, then you shouldn’t do so to your kid. Find healthier coping mechanisms to deal with your anger. Putting your hands on a child should be a very last resort in extreme circumstances.

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Set a good example for your child by showing them respect. Though you created them, they’re still a human being that deserve autonomy. At the same time, discipline is important. There will be ups and downs while you try to guide your bundle of joy down the right path, but the key to being a good disciplinarian is consistency. Your child will never learn if you can’t clearly show them that there are natural and logical consequences. They might complain now, but they’ll be grateful for all that you’ve done for them later in life.

What are your feelings on discipline? Share how you discipline your children in the comments below.