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Disciplining Your Child Without Becoming The Big Monster

Disciplining without being a monsterIt is difficult to know where the balance lies between being a discipline wimp and the big monster when it comes to disciplining your child. We don’t want our children walking over us because they know they are not going to be disciplined for it, but we also don’t want our children fearing us because they see us as monsters with foul tempers. 

Discipline and boundaries are critical for children, particularly in the younger years, to teach them limits to behaviours and to provide them with guidelines to help them understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from those around them. Every parent has different methods of parenting and setting boundaries, however, there are some simple basics that work for all parents and all children. 


Knowing the rules 

By the time your child is a toddler, you know all the rules – and so should your child. However, many of us find we break the discipline rules on more than one occasion. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Sticking to the rules you have set will not only give your child confidence in you and your abilities but goes a long way to teaching your child how to be consistent. Remember, our children learn more from what we do than what we say – and a consistent parent will inevitably lead to a consistent child. 

It’s also important to set realistic rules in your home. This is another of the balances between being a discipline wimp and the big discipline monster. If you are setting unrealistic rules for your child to follow, you are setting them up for failure and this can further increase behaviour problems down the line. 


Keep your responses in check 

Our responses to situations are critical for how our children behave. Some children will misbehave because our responses encourage it. Children need clear limits and structure and when you allow certain behaviours -just this once , it’s already too late.  It is difficult when, as a parent, you don’t have the energy or time to deal with antics, but it’s important for you to maintain consistency in your responses. 

This is important for both parents in the house. If parents respond and discipline differently, children can become confused, frustrated and fearful. This can also cause one of the parents to be considered the big monster while the other becomes an ally. The only alliances should be between the parents, to establish rules and enforce them together. 


Discipline without fear 

Children need to learn the skills of expressing feelings and behaving in acceptable ways, and your discipline plays a large role in this learning. It helps to remember that discipline is a method of guidance for your child and can help them to learn how to behave or express themselves correctly. Constant reprimanding with words like -No! and -Don’t! do not teach the child, but instead cause a confusion and misunderstanding that will most likely cause them to do the action or express themselves in that manner again. It is important to explain why the behaviour or expression is not acceptable and suggest the correct action for use in the future.

Erratic and unreasonable responses from the parent are two of the biggest causes for fear in children. If your child is unsure of what response they are going to get for doing something wrong, they can develop a fear of the parent. When yelling, name calling and a nasty tone of voice is a knee-jerk reaction to bad behaviour; your child’s self-esteem is affected negatively and they can become resentful. Younger children may also become fearful of being screamed at in public places and may become introverted as a response to this fear. 


Keep the communication lines open

Communication is essential in any relationship and even more so between a parent and a child. This does not mean allowing a child to talk their way over your decisions, but rather giving the child an opportunity to safely express themselves and to understand the reasons behind your decisions.

One of our biggest mistakes as a parent is to use words that buy us time in an effort to avoid the tantrum that may follow an outright -no . This is deadly to the communication lines between you and your child, especially since words like -Maybe may sometimes mean yes and sometimes are just a trick to avoid saying no. Many times children may hear the -Maybe as a yes, and the tantrum that follows is a response to you breaking a promise, which is hurtful and negative. It’s simpler to provide outright answers for requests and deal with the response, than to mislead your child and create suspicion and mistrust.


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