Feb 16, 2012

Are you too cool a parent to discipline your kids?

Are you one of those parents who believe that disciplining a child is something left better for later than sooner? Do you find yourself cleaning up all the time and the chores never ending? Can little Johnny, four years old, throw his toys around and leave his clothes strewn around the bedroom for you to pick up? It is time for both you and little Johnny to wake up and smell the coffee grinds on the floor and get out the mop. Most times parents are so enamored with their kids that the kids can scream from the top of the stairs or hang from the chandelier and the doting parent will say, aahh… isn’t he cute? When the time comes for them to instil real discipline, they don’t know what to do because cute little Johnny is in control.

Your kids’ bad behavior is not cute to anyone but you

I’m the most beloved and doting mother that there is, but the moment I came home with my son from the hospital what seems like a hundred years ago now, I took him straight into his room and put him in his crib. First, he needed his own space, and two, I was not going to turn Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan down on the stereo. The location of the crib tells everyone that that is the baby’s domain.

Do’s and don’ts when disciplining a child

·                    Do not sleep with your baby in your bed. Teach your child independence from the start. Let him become more familiar with his own space, where he is being bathed, cuddled and loved. If your child is fed and comfortable, put him down in his crib where he can be a little by himself and fall asleep on his own. A new mother who takes a short cut at this stage by picking up your infant every time he whimpers, pays the price later on. 

·                    Having said this, it is all right to have sessions with your kids on special occasions where they can all clamber onto the duvet and have a little bonding session.

·                    Don’t let friends and family members disrupt the child’s sleeping time by picking him up when he is asleep. Take your guests into the living room. Don’t gather in your infant’s room.

·                    Once you make a rule about something, stick with it. If your child misbehaves at the supper table and repeatedly spits out his food or lets the spaghetti strands hang from his head, tell him that there is no television now and that he has a five minute timeout. Don’t let him change this rule about waiting in his room for his time to pass.

·                    Don’t shout at your kids; screaming is more a release for you than for them and does not help anyone. You can be more effective taking the situation in hand and just leading little Johnny to his room. A screaming child can’t win just because he can shout louder than you. And you are the boss, aren’t you? 

·                    Don’t bribe your child and don’t be taken in by promises which you have repeatedly allowed the child to break before. Besides, it will show that you have no confidence in your actions. The same with your teenage son. If he does not do his chores, there is no allowance. If he rails at you, tell him you love him, but that he first has to prove himself.

Raising responsible adolescents

Many parents worry that while they are at work their adolescent children will get bored and get involved with unsavory activities and characters. There are enough incidents on Dr Phil and other like-minded shows that indicate that children can indeed get themselves into trouble if they do not follow the rules. It cannot be easy to be at work and worry all the time what your children are getting up to, especially after they come home from school. Teaching your twelve-year-old or fourteen-year-old to be responsible requires the support of every member in the family. What you are trying to teach your child might not appear to be successful at first, but repetition, if you stick to it, will yield results.

Pointers for more responsible behavior

·                    When you give one of your children the key to enter the house after school, make sure he knows where the key is and that no stranger know where it is kept. This has to be adhered to or you can have bigger problems on hand.

·                    When you ask him to do something for you when he comes home from school, make sure that he does it or he will soon think you lax and take more advantage.

·                    Letting go of your child happens gradually, and learning to become responsible is a process. Understand this.

·                    Mean what you say. Don’t change your mind once you have made a decision; stick to the plan.

·                    When there is a problem, ask your child what he thinks has gone wrong; involve him in the process. Remember you child will go out on his own in the world and must learn to do things for himself.

·                    Listen to your child when he comes to you with a problem. Perhaps it involves his mother and he is embarrassed to say so; or perhaps it is a personal problem that needs his father to give him advice.

·                    When there are arguments or problems, brainstorm the problem and try to come to an amicable solution.

·                    Never embarrass your children in front of others; always treat them with respect.

When teaching your children responsibility, don’t lord it over them, meaning not to let them feel like irresponsible kids all the time. Children have feelings and they have to vent. Never push a child into a corner and leave him no room to maneuver himself out of the situation. In the end it is about trying to raise kids who can become responsible adults and not about making the child feel small. When your adolescent child acts out and is always in trouble, there usually is a reason why he is behaving in such a manner. Get to the root of the problem. Brainstorm. Ask questions until you get the right answer.