If you love your children, you will discipline them when they need it. If you love your children, you will be the one in charge. If you love your children, you will show them behavior acceptable to your family, friends, and society.

Discipline is not “old fashioned” or “out-of-date." It is one of our greatest needs right now, in our modern world. Humans simply must learn to behave and to live beside each other peacefully.

When you discipline your children, you are not being mean. Sensible discipline is a sign to your children that you care and are not out just to punish them, but to prepare them for their future. Disciplining children is more than making them behave for the time being. It is teaching your children to behave for a lifetime.

Too soon, they will be adults with the privilege of driving a car and owning a gun. They must have a conscience to handle these responsibly. Building conscience is what discipline is all about. There are right ways and wrong ways to exist in our world.

You have the duty to be direct and firm in helping your children know what is acceptable and what is not. You get right down to their eye level and tell them plainly why a particular kind of behavior is needed. You must be clear and distinct. “You have to stop what you are doing, and this is why...” You try not to be angry, but truly showing your children that you believe in what you say.

It takes time for ideas to sink in, for children to learn to control their impulses and emotions. It takes your patience and even your repetition. You must be consistent. Children like to test to see if you remember.

You cannot talk children out of acting their age. Sometimes, if you suspect the behavior is something common to the age of a child, like a 2-year-old being stubborn, you may need to bide your time and save your talking. It is wise to ignore rather than punish.

Sometimes, you may need to channel your children’s behavior. If you are worried that someone might get hurt or property might get damaged, you try to think of ways your children can vent without harm to themselves or others. “You can’t wrestle in the living room, but you can roughhouse outside in the yard.” If you open a detour for your children, everyone stays happy and safe. “If you are really angry with your little brother, go pound his pillow.”

If you use punishment as a way of discipline too often, you build resentment in your children. It is better to build and use the strong civilizing loving bond between parent and child. Children will feel close to their parents and want to imitate their ways.

Children need dads and mothers who think on their feet, are consistent and yet, flexible enough to use a variety of ways to discipline. Then children have a chance to become decent human beings and adults parents can be proud of.

Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at bettemroz@gmail.com