If anyone ever asks me how I discipline my kids, after reminding them that
my kids are far from perfect and they will stay that way,
I am far from perfect, and I will stay that way,
and, we don’t always get it right over here…(In fact, today I’m glad some of my frustrated words to my strong willed child weren’t recorded anywhere.)
I settle on consistency.
I think there are many different and effective avenues to instilling beliefs, values, character and appropriate behavior in your kids – but whatever you choose – be consistent.
They should know what I have dubbed the “If this, then that principle,” meaning – If I behave this way, then that will happen every. single. time.
And that’s hard.
Because sometimes we’re tired.
Sometimes we’re annoyed.
And sometimes, we just don’t feel like it.
It may not feel like it’s working and we just want to quit.
But, I stand by consistency. No one gets it right 100% of the time, but I happen to believe that wishy washy parenting is a recipe for behavior problems. I speak from experience.
I often feel like parenting is a roller coaster. Things will be smooth for a while and then all of the sudden we go down hill, and I have to be conscious of going back to consistency. “If this, then that.”
Seriously though….I HATE those times. When I have to tighten up on discipline, it feels like I’m punishing myself, but when I’m consistent – we quickly see a change in behavior.
Now, I have really hard news for you because I’m about to tell you the first thing I do when I want to change the behavior of my children. Are you ready? You might not like it.
I change my own behavior first.
You still with me? Are we still friends?
I hear you through my computer screen, I do.
“My kids need to respect me before they get respect. They’re kids.”
“I’m the parent, he’s the kid.”
“Because. I. Said. So!”
I totally get it. Although I really never say, “because I said so,” mostly because I like to use a lot of words and that’s just not enough of them, I often battle the idea that our kids should obey simply because we are the parents.
Unfortunately, we only have that perceived control for a short amount of time before they don’t have to respect us as an authority – and they end up have no respect for any authority.
When I change my behavior, I’m showing them that I have control over my own actions. When they see me listen to them, they are more willing to listen. When they see my husband and myself have differing opinions without slamming doors, they also see that they can have a different opinion without losing their minds and stomping their feet.
When they see that they can approach mom for a compromise and she actually DOES when she can, the next time the word “no” might not be so painful.
Am I yelling at my kids to stop yelling?
Are they hearing me complain before telling them to stop whining?
Are they competing with my phone for my attention?
Am I being gentle and specific enough in my expectations?
Are my expectations too high?
Am I parenting from my own fears and anxieties?
Am I being nice to my kids or am I snapping at them, demanding things?
These are some of the things I personally struggle with when parenting my own kids.
If you’re looking realistically at yourself – what are areas that you feel like you might be able to change to have a more peaceful parent/child relationship with your children?
How has changing your own behavior in the past yielded positive results for you?
Side Note: One last thing before I go – Our children have their own free will. It’s not always easy to parent but we WANT our kids to be firm in what they believe. We want them to stand up for themselves and have their own thoughts and minds. I suggest that you do your best not to snuff out the strong, individual spirits of each your children – I think that can make them resentful adults. As a strong willed child, I’m thankful that I was parented with discipline but acceptance, encouragement, and proper direction of my sometimes erratic notions.
The only behavior you have control over is your own. Fortunately, exercising that self control goes a long way in getting the behavior that you want to see from your children.
I’m still working on it.
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