Sometimes we feel that we are getting nowhere with disciplining our child. When a child just won’t adhere to what we say it can be frustrating and tiring. We sometimes feel that there must be something wrong with our child, who appears a tearaway compared to the other angelic children we see. All children have their own personality, some are stronger-willed than others, but whatever they are like, it is not necessary to think there is something wrong. All children learn and mature at a different pace to others, and when they have grown up as wonderful adults, we look back and think ‘what was I worrying about back then?’
What we sometimes overlook is that, even though we feel we have been firm and clear in our communication with our kids, in reality, we haven’t. With the busyness and stress of our lives today, we do often give in to our children’s demands, back down when trying to enforce rules, and go back on our principles. We may not even realise it, but our kids, being clever an observant individuals, do see it – it feeds their need to get their own way and to push the boundaries.
Children all too well know with whom they can push the boundaries, and also with whom they cannot. So how can we as parents ensure it is the former, and not the latter, with us?
1. Consistency is the key. Saying ‘no’ to something one day and ‘yes’ to it the next is not being consistent. Kids are extra-sensitive to this. Being inconsistent undermines your authority and makes life difficult for the future. When children see your inconsistency they interpret it as meaning your rules do not mean much, and are there to be broken.
2. Children learn a lot through your consistency and inconsistency. For example, friends I know have a lot of trouble enforcing the principle that their 16 year old son gets a part-time job to fund his social life. They see him as lazy because he just won’t get up and do anything about it, nor accept it is his responsibility. His parents are totally frustrated by this. They feel they have done everything they can, and primarily, they will not give him any money, in the hope that he will eventually feel he has to do something if he wants some money. I sympathised with their position until, one night they were going out, their son was nagging them for money, and his dad gave in and gave him some as he was flying out of the door. This one act of inconsistency is all it takes to give the message – I don’t need to bother to get a job, ask enough and dad will give in.
3. Actions speak louder than words. Children are more likely to do what they see you do rather than what you tell them to do. This means setting a good example and sticking to your own rules yourself. For example, a rule like ‘no eating in the lounge’ must be something that applies to all the family, including yourself, otherwise, do not be surprised if your children question the rule.
4. Children do actually want you to set boundaries and be consistent about enforcing them. Not only that, it helps them through their transition to school and adult life. They know where they are, how to be, and find, rather than having to learn through punishment at school or other institutions, they are better prepared for socialisation and the world of academia.
5. Do not give up. Sometimes it takes repeating a message to your child time and time again until you are tired of hearing yourself say it, but with perseverance the message will get through. Children can naturally be very forgetful – they are motivated by their own interests which are quite different from yours, so your rules and values are last on their list!
Your relationship with your child and your consistency is what determines your success at discipline in the family. Being firm but respectful when dealing with your child is effective only if you persevere and give consistent, not conflicting, messages.
Loving, peaceful and powerful parenting is possible, with The Chilled Parent. Visit http://www.chilledparent.com/Ebook.htm to get the informative ezine.