All mothers lose patience and say things like, "Because I said so" or "If you don't do it right now I am going to ground you." These are statements we make when we have run out of ideas.
When we are tired and don't know what to say, we start sounding like our own mothers. That is great, if we had a good mother. But if your mother was less than perfect, chances are your bag of parenting tricks needs filling.
Kids have a job in life. That job is to grow up and become functioning, independent adults who no longer sleep by mommy, need to be told what to do and know the importance of paying bills on time. The part of their job, that sometimes makes our job as parents difficult, is the "becoming independent" part. We are sure we know what is best for them. But they have other ideas. For example, we are sure they should eat vegetables. Yet they may not be convinced.
There are four basic ways we can parent children
1. Authoritarian parents
Parent dictators who tell children what, when and how they will live their lives. They expect children to behave quickly and without question.
2. Permissive parents
Let children make their own rules, trusting they know what is best. Sometimes called indulgent. Children have a lot of freedom. They love their children and are seen more as friends than parents.
3. Uninvolved parents
These parents are seemingly not attached and may not attend to their children's needs. They may be accused of neglecting their children.
and in my opinion the most effective parenting style.
About.com psychology describes authoritative parents. They, "...establish rules and guidelines...children are expected to follow... .democratic... responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing... . monitor and impart clear standards for their children's conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive."
They want their children to WANT to be good.
We often want quick fixes to discipline. We want our children to behave right now. Sometimes, in the case of a hot stove or a busy city street, it is important that they behave "right now" for their own safety. However, we have time to teach our children the importance of right and wrong and how to behave when they grow up and are independent.
If we use the first parenting style, the Authoritarian, we might tell our children what to do and threaten serious consequences if they fail to do what we say. For example, you allow your child to borrow the family car, but threaten never to allow him to use the car again if he gets in trouble for speeding. Rather than lose the privilege of driving or out of fear, our child may lie to us if he gets a speeding ticket.
The problem with using a heavy hand or a big threat is that we create a home atmosphere of fear. Our children are behaving because they are afraid of us. We have become the bad guy or the enemy in their world. This kind of parenting leads to an "us" and "them" environment. Children raised in homes like this often feel justified when they sneak behind the parent's back or lie to avoid the heavy consequences that are sometimes physical, including spankings or physical punishment.
What we want is a child who behaves well because he believes it is the right thing to do. For example, our child always tells the truth because he has a belief that being honest is important, and he understands the importance of trust and integrity. This child wouldn't be likely to abuse the privilege of borrowing the family car because he would want to honor his parent's trust.
Teach children to want to do what is right
Set an example
. As parents, the first and most important thing we can do is set an example and live the way we want our children to live.
Discuss big issues before they happen
Talk about honesty and integrity while your children are small. Convince and convert them to the values you think are important, like integrity. Long before they are old enough to drive the family car, discuss what you will want them to do. Convert them to the idea and importance of taking care of a valuable asset like the family car.
Allow them to suffer small natural and logical consequences
, when safe and when they are younger. Allow them to learn early in a safe environment. For example, if they leave their bike outside and it is stolen, do not replace it. Later when it is time to borrow the car, they will already understand the importance of locking it up.
Clearly define your values, what is important to you and teach your children regularly
As parents, choose the values you want to teach your children, like honesty, integrity and kindness. Hold regular family meetings where they can take part in discussions and learn about the values you feel are important.
See mistakes your children make as opportunities to teach and talk. When you become angry, your child cannot hear what you are saying. Speak with love.
Never forget to reward and praise all the good things they do
Catch your child doing good every chance you get. Keep your focus on the positive and create opportunities for your child to succeed.
This week realize that you are your children's first and most important teacher. Teach children to want to be good. Catch them being good.