An Open Letter to Parents Struggling with Discipline
Raising children is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage, fortitude and a particular kind of intuitive smarts.
Then your children misbehave, and it’s up to you to reign them in. Here’s my open letter to parents struggling with discipline.
I get it. Parenting is hard, especially when you love your child as much as I know you do.
When you struggle with discipline, though, hating your kid can be easy. You are not alone. No one likes the arguing, oppositional behaviors or outright rebellion that can be part of raising children. Parenting is of the toughest jobs around. There are, however, better ways to parent.
What’s your limit?
Linda Esposito states that disciplining your child begins with your own discipline. Restraint means setting boundaries. Someone in the household has to be the grown-up and make decisions about what’s okay and what’s not okay. If you’re the parent, that job falls to you.
That may mean establishing bedtimes or telling your kids that cheese puffs are not for breakfast. It’s your household and your rules.
Observe the line you drew in the sand
With rules, however, come responsibilities. If your child eats the cheese puffs for breakfast anyway, how willing are you to deny them cheese puffs later? You’ll have to follow through with consequences for any of the rules that your kids break.
If there are no consequences, you may find your kid will violate more rules just to see where your breaking point is.
Find the positive
Children who hear the word “no” all the time begin to ignore it. Rather than state everything in the negative, redirect your child toward the positive. “No cheese puffs for breakfast” can be restated as, “Show me if you can eat your cereal as fast as you eat cheese puffs.”
If your kids do what you asked, recognize them with specific praise.
Another way to create positives is to allow your child to choose between two reasonable options. For example, let’s imagine your child refuses to brush his or her teeth. Ask, “Would you like to brush your teeth before we go to the park or when we come home from the park?”
The tooth brushing will take place either way, but your child has a say in when it will happen.
Being consistent in your discipline approach is critical for your success. Staying on top of contrary behaviors can be a challenge. Become consistent by focusing on a single behavior first. Pick the most challenging action as your starting point, and work on that one behavior until your child consistently meets your expectations.
Hang in there. Don’t give up. Your children won’t be kids forever, but you’ll always be glad you invested the time in helping them improve their discipline.