Thursday, October 15, 2015

“If We Say It, We Must Mean It,” Says MU Extension Human Development Specialist

Contact: Renette Wardlow, human development specialist
Headquartered in Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909
Photo at

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Parents and other adults who care for children often discuss the “how and why” of discipline according to Renette Wardlow, human development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“One of the questions I get asked the most often is ‘How can I get my children to listen to me and do what I say’?” said Wardlow. “Basically, if we say it, we must mean it.”

There are many and varied ideas on what discipline is and how it should be used. Parents have the responsibility to train their child in the way he should go. Wardlow says that challenge often requires that we first learn to discipline ourselves in the matters of child rearing.

“Whether parenting skills come naturally, or we learn them through trial and error, they are accomplished by consistency, encouragement, and example,” said Wardlow.

First of all, there are no specific rules, no set answers.

“We are different people, different from our parents. The way we feel today may not be how we feel tomorrow. Our children are not alike and our setting is constantly changing. If we can remember these things then we can begin to understand why no book can contain one set of rules that will work for everyone,” said Wardlow.

However, there are some general guidelines and principles that can be adapted to individual situations and that can help you think through your situation.

Discipline is guidance, teaching, and learning. It is helping your children to grow in self-direction so that when they are grown up, they can control their actions. Discipline continues from birth all through life.

Discipline is necessary. It is necessary to develop wholesome, satisfying relationships with others; for health and safety; and for the protection of the rights of others.

Discipline does not just apply to misbehavior; it is much more. It involves looking at behavior, try to understand why, trying to find the best way to change behavior and provide a good learning experience for a child.

“Regardless of what age a child is, one of the most difficult jobs as a parent is to set limits on a child’s behavior. However, once limits are set it is especially important to determine what to do if a rule or limit is broken,” said Wardlow.

There are times when a child breaks a rule and must suffer the consequences.

“When we set limits but don’t follow through consistently, we find our credibility suffers,” said Wardlow. “Regardless of how ‘stern-faced’ we appear, if we do not follow through, we lose, but the child loses more. He or she learns that we do not really mean what we say!

For more information, contact any of MU Extension’s human development specialists in southwest Missouri: Renette Wardlow in Christian County at (417) 581-3558, Dr. Jim Wirth in Taney County at (417) 546-4431, or Angie Fletcher in Texas County at (417) 967-4545.


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