How would you feel if your boss consistently came down hard on you on a daily basis and never allowed you to make even small mistakes? What would it do to your emotional state and self-esteem?
Be kind when things go wrong or when your child does something you don’t approve of. Tell your child why it isn’t ok so that they understand the value of what you want and don’t want. Let them buy into your expectations rather than screaming it at them.
Don’t change the goal posts. If you don’t allow sweets before lunch today then it shouldn’t be allowed tomorrow. Don’t confuse your child by having different expectations and rules every day. Decide what is allowed and what not and stick to it. It is crucial to be a united front with your partner regarding the rules, values, expectations and discipline, even if you are separated or divorced. Parents who have different rules, values, expectations and discipline set the child up for failure, and it’s much easier for a child to manipulate parents to get what they want if parents don’t agree, or are in competition with each other for the children’s affection. (Please contact me if you and your ex don’t speak or if you don’t agree on rules and values for the two different households, or if a step-parent doesn’t understand their role. I can help.)
Be consistent with your child’s discipline. The aim of disciplining is to correct behaviour; to teach your child to choose acceptable behaviours and learn self-control. Children will test the boundaries you put in place, but if you don’t have boundaries for them, they will grow up to be entitled adults and we all know how entitled people suffer in the end because they suffer rejection until they learn to respect boundaries.
Rules make your expectations clear and children learn self-control. Some rules may include: No cell phone or TV until homework is done. No cell phone at the table, ever. No violence. No cursing. No name-calling. No bullying. No lies. Remember, with rules come consequences for not adhering to the rules. Don’t put consequences in place if you are not going to follow through with it, because you teach your child that you don’t mean what you say, and you enable their bad behaviour, but the punishment should fit the transgression. Don’t be too harsh. Removing privileges works if you remove the privileges they value most. If a child doesn’t watch much TV then removing TV wouldn’t be punishment. Be consistent. If you remove a cell phone for a day, then it should be a full day. 24 Hours and not a minute sooner otherwise they will learn that you are flexible with punishment. If your child gives you a hard time about removing a privilege the punishment has to be increased, but again, don’t be too harsh. They have to learn to use self-control and that you mean what you say. Remember, you are preparing your child for adulthood – not childhood. Being a responsible adult means that they will need to respect boundaries, rules and laws; practice self-control; have good values, and be able to express themselves in a respectful manner.
I repeat – don’t shout at your child and don’t demean them. You model for your children and they will do as you do.
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