Updated: Sep 4
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Figuring out the best way to discipline children without coming off as angry and frustrated can be a challenge for every parent. Children can often be irrational, and they need to be taken care of regardless of our exhaustion, stress, depression, fear, or loneliness. Some children are struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or other behavioral issues. We don’t always know what to do, how to respond to outbursts, and we frequently wonder if we are going about everything wrong.
Though children respond to discipline differently, there are some general guidelines to follow that can help build their character, increase their confidence, and make you feel more in control. As you seek techniques that work for you and your family, here are some reminders:
1. Be the Grown Up
If you want your children to respect and listen to you, you have to begin presenting yourself as a mature, but an authentic person. Children need flexible and caring parents who love them unconditionally, even when they are out of control. Modeling rational behavior can help develop their coping techniques and decrease their anxiety. At the same time, it’s ok to be human. If you find yourself losing your temper or lashing out, remember to apologize and explain why your reaction was wrong.
2. Show Consistent Parenting Styles
If one parent expects a different set of standards than another parent, the child is going to become confused and secretive. Furthermore, if one parent hides information from the other parent out of fear, the child will subconsciously pick up deceptive and manipulative habits. It’s ok for both parents to have different personalities but their parenting standards should be similar. Fostering a culture of open communication and healthy boundaries will help children feel safe and less anxious.
3. Set Boundaries
If the child learns that he/she can cross boundaries without repercussions, they will be more apt to cross boundaries later in life. Teaching them that certain actions lead to repercussions, and sticking to those repercussions (time-outs, etc.). will help them learn that certain behaviors are unacceptable. Furthermore, respect their personal space and expect them to respect yours. Unless there is a legitimate reason to suspect they are doing something wrong, it is unacceptable for the parent to invade their personal space regularly.
4. Don’t Micromanage
Helicopter parenting, or parents who are overly focused on their children, isn’t healthy for the child or the adult. It can be tempting to try and fix your child’s mistakes, to clean their rooms, to help them every night with their homework, or intervene with their friendships, but this doesn’t serve any purpose. Children will learn that their parents don’t think they are capable of doing anything on their own. Even though it can be frustrating to wait for your child to tie his shoes when you know you can do it faster, waiting is the preferred choice. Teach your children to be independent, and demonstrate that you trust them enough to manage certain tasks on their own. Let them make mistakes so they can learn from it. If you constantly sweep in to save the day, they aren’t going to be able to take care of themselves later in life.
Take a Breath
Nobody thinks parenting is easy. Everyone is bound to make mistakes, and you are not the exception. Try not to beat yourself up if you find yourself falling back into old, negative patterns. If you struggle with a child who has specific mental health needs, it would behoove you to find a therapist for both you and the child. Certain techniques work specifically on different disorders, and working through that process with a counselor can be helpful for the whole family.
Do you struggle with the stresses of parenting? Does your child suffer from a behavioral problem? If so, contact Straight Talk Clinic at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.