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And, In This Corner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Disciplining Your Child

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Becoming a parent “may” be relatively “easy”, but being a parent and doing the actual parenting is a whole other ball game. In fact, even some famous and infamous personalities profess falling into the “pitfalls” of parenthood and becoming the personification of the clichés they previously protested.

Still, being a parent means making mistakes, and disciple probably tops the list of areas where most of us “go wrong”. After all we want to be tough, but not too tough, and then there’s these new social norms and standards that we’re called to abide by; and our biggest struggle is “balance”.

Here are five blunders most parents make…and should best be avoided.

· Trying to find a parenting “style”: Sure YOU may have a style all your own, but so do your kids, and that means YOU adapting to them. Forget about a one-size or one-style method when it comes to dealing with and/or disciplining your kids. Each is their very own little individual and your methods need to be tailored to each of them. You’ll also want to take into account age. Think about WHO you’re dealing with. Toddlers are rebellious, as are teens, but each for very different reasons. Toddlers therefore need to be spoken to sternly and directly (but without being too harsh), while teens and tweens need to have some of their priviledges removed. They key is, regardless of your approach, teaching kids early on that you say what you mean and mean what you say and following through, while always showing love, albeit sometimes tough. Just make sure your choice of reaction is one your child and his or her personality will have a positive response to, otherwise you may be doing more damage than good.

· Parenting by emotion (only): Kids can be quick to frustrate us, but allowing our frustrations to dictate how we discipline can be a “no-no”. Remember, you want the punishment to fit the crime and not your tolerance or frustration level, especially since kids will perceive the latter as unreasonable and unfair and will be less inclined to accept you as a reasonable adult they can trust and come to.

One good disciplinary “action” is simply letting kids know (in a firm and stern tone) that “there will be consequences”. Experts suggest that while you are not necessarily saying a lot, you are speaking volumes, especially if kids know you are a man or woman of your word and mean business. You can even ask you child or children what they think the consequences should be, they may just surprise you with how fair, reasonable, and responsible they can be.

· Letting your “heart” get in the way: In many instances this can lead to “not enough” discipline or punishment and children will learn to see you as a pushover, especially if you’re not one to follow through or not follow through completely. Remember, especially in today’s day and age, taking away one activity or toy has little meaning or impact, if the child has complete and total access to another. The punishment, while you don’t want to be too harsh, and while it should, as we said before, fit the crime, MUST leave an impression and make an impact, this way the behaviour or action doesn’t happen again. Again, think in terms of your particular child. Take away play dates from a social child or ban a more introverted kid from his or her favourite show or DVD for a particular amount of time.

· “Curbing” the rules: Consistency is key, not experts. A behaviour has to be a “no-no” for all siblings, unless it’s an age related thing, in which case an explanation will be needed. And, it has to be a behaviour that’s off-limits all the time and not just when it’s convenient. For instance you can’t correct a child for swearing if you swear all the time, nor can swearing become “acceptable” when angry but not under other circumstances…..at least not if you’re trying to teach children right and wrong. Kids, say experts, are often frequently confused, especially by mixed messages, and especially before they are old enough to understand about “circumstances”. So, not only do you have to establish house rules, YOU have to set the example and them make sure they are stuck to. This means also being prepared to pay the price of follow through. If you ground your child you must follow through and not for less time than “threatened”, because it may make life easier for you. If you say no TV for the entire night, that means the ENTIRE night and not until YOU want them to do something that will keep them out of your hair. Doing things that may hurt you more than they hurt your child teaches them to take your seriously and respect you, because you are NOT going to be messed with.

· Having a “negative” outlook: Sure children are challenging more often than not, and may even do much more than you can tolerate, but seeing everything in a negative light will only make things worse. While it’s true that kids are loud, or can’t sit still, that’s just part of their nature and part of being a kid…..something YOU have to learn to accept and (happily) live with. Also, if you try to reprimand you kid for every little “annoying” or “imperfect” thing he or she does, you are only fostering negative feelings in her or him and making your mental state and your relationship more strained.

Try to also see and point out the positives, both complimenting and rewarding your child for his or her good behaviour and accomplishments. Praise if very powerful, even for adolescents and even adults.

In fact, rather than threatening to punish you child or his or her behaviour you can instead remind him or her than inadequate behaviour will result in an elimination of a “treat”…..and let them make the decision and the choice.

Last but not least, remember to offer an explanation for your actions allowing your child to think things through and always approach kids with a loving attitude so they know that it’s the action you are punishing and not “them” per se.







Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > And, In This Corner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Disciplining Your Child

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