Parenting is not for wimps. Truly, parenting is really hard. And while we are forced to take a test before getting a drivers license, there is no such requirement for the raising our most precious cargo, our children.
Many parents believe that strict parenting produces better behaving kids. However, research studies on discipline is consistent and shows that strict, or authoritarian, parenting actually makes unhappy kids who feel bad about themselves and behave worse. This leads parents to believe more punishment is needed to make them comply.
Permissive parenting doesn’t fare any better. When parents don’t set limits and cater to children’s every need, their children, don’t develop the ability to manage their emotions and behavior are seen as spoiled and lazy.
All children need limits to feel safe. Discipline is an important and effective tool, but parents need to use it in a way that keeps the child’s dignity intact. Discipline is not the same as harsh punishment. It is simply teaching children which behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not.
Disciplining with love is a kind of Positive Parenting that allows parents to set limits effectively without yelling, name-calling and hitting.
The word "Discipline" means to teach. This raises the question of how kids learn how to behave. Research shows that children learn best when they are given instructions, feel valued, and not put on the defensive.
what’s a Parent To Do or Not Do?
Here are my ground rules for effective parenting.
1. Never hit, spank, shake, or slap your child. Psychologists know that these behaviors teach that violence is a way to solve problems. They also become sneaky, doing what they want under cover. Further, some children learn to fear and lose trust in parents and others in authorities. Even if it stops an unwanted behavior temporarily, studies show that children who are hurt by parents are more likely to hit and fight with other children, steal things, and engage in other anti-social behaviors. They are also more likely to act out in violent, aggressive ways when they become adults.
2. Avoid yelling, blaming, or calling children names for their bad behaviors. Instead, Speak firmly, but kindly in a conversational tone. Be calm and describe the behavior you want to see.
3. Tell the child what to do instead of what he or she is doing. For example “Jump on the floor, not on the couch. The couch is for sitting.” Acknowledge when he or she complies. “ Say, That’s it. Or good job.
4. Find alternatives to physical punishment. Consequences that are logical for the transgression teach control and work better.
5. Also catch the child doing good and praise a job well done. Teachers call it “catching your child being good.”
6. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. You can say, “I see you are feeling upset. What’s going on?
7. Parenting is hard and we all get frustrated with our children’s behavior. Some of us get so angry we want to explode. When that happens, give yourself a time out. Go to the bathroom, take a few deep breaths and cool down.
8. Model the behavior you want to see. Children will likely follow your lead. If children repeatedly see parents acting out, they won’t know how to act differently.
8. Use loving words. Tell your children how much you love them, how much they mean to you, and how much you believe in them.
Remember, our children are our future and are precious that we’ve been given. With love and kindness, discipline can be a positive experience.
© Dr. Rachell N. Anderson, March 6, 2017
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.