I think it’s safe to say, every parent’s goal is to help their child develop the belief that they are capable and equip them with the skills to make the right choices. But no one is perfect, and kids will make mistakes.
Susan Bartell from US News said, “Mom and dads don’t realize that punishment is actually the least effective form of discipline. This is because for a parent it generally comes from a place of anger and frustration, and so for the child it communicates a parent’s displeasure for a behavior, but it doesn’t teach the child a better way to behave.”
If your child is a fairly well-behaved kid, when they misbehave you question everything. Are they going through a phase? Are they hanging out with someone who is influencing this behavior? Should you sit them down and have a long talk? The reality is there is no concrete answer. However, parents can be proactive and feel better about their better-behaved kids if they create a solid foundation by practicing positive discipline. Here are a few ways parents can do this:
Stop Treating the Action Like a Symptom
Get to the root of the issue. Maybe your child started a new school and they’re acting out. Instead of coming down on them, assess the situation. Look into social gatherings, affiliated with the school, that you can do together. If they see you trying, then they will be more willing to socialize. Or maybe a loved one passed away and your child is dealing with the loss by being mean to others. Invest in your child and have some one-on-one time with them. Helping your child process their feelings will keep them from feeling isolated.
Stop Controlling Them
Equip your child with choices and independence. Yes, they need to get their homework completed and clean up their room; however, it doesn’t have to be in that order. Allow your child to be independent and make their own choices. You can teach routine and priorities without being overbearing.
If they need a little nudge, be helpful versus militant. For example, if your child needs to clean their room, ask them if they need a garbage bag or if they need Clorox wipes. Ultimately, you’re being a leader and not a controller.
Make Quality Time a Thing Every Day
Your child will feel more loved and worthy if you communicate with them every day. Now communication doesn’t mean you ask them to do their chores or other responsibilities. Instead communication means having meaningful conversations with your child.
Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and look each other in the eyes. Need some icebreaker questions? Try – “What was your favorite part of your day?” “What did you eat for lunch?” “What are you learning in [insert subject]?” “What do you want to do this weekend?”
Your child will appreciate your time and feel like a priority.
Stop Shaming Mistakes
Morgan Harper Nichols wrote one of my favorite poems. “This is the season she will make beautiful things. Not perfect things but honest things that speak to who she is and who she is called to be.” Sometimes mistakes open the door for even better things to happen and other times mistakes are valuable lessons.
Instead of shaming your child for making a mistake, encourage them to own it. Be honest and open to your child about mistakes – let them know everyone makes errors. Nevertheless, these blunders are not flaws – they are part of life. And it’s important for our children to understand that they are not less of a person because of these oversights.
Value Their Voice
Parents, teachers, coaches and other role models are integral when it comes to voice and value. If a child isn’t invited to share their voice, they’ll never fully understand how to incorporate constructive criticism in the future. There are some simple ways parents can value their child’s voice. Try: When creating family rules, invite your child to speak up and share their point of view. If your family meal plans, ask your child what they would like to eat. Or maybe your family is embarking on some fall cleaning before the holidays, have a family meeting and ask your child which chore they would like to head up.
Implement Respect & Love
The goal as a parent is to have a household where your child respects you. Overall you want them to believe what you are saying. This means communicating without yelling, sharing praise, understanding fairness amongst siblings, set boundaries and telling the truth at all times. Having these standards will teach your children family values and help them better understand (and create) healthy relationships.
Assigning chores to everyone in the household is a great way to teach productivity. Obviously, chores should match a child’s age. For example, you wouldn’t let your 4-year-old vacuum, but they can sweep up the crumbs from dinner. While kids are not going to line up or ask for more chores, the completion of tasks will reinforce a capable mindset and promote unity within the household.
To piggy back on top of number seven, if your child acts up then you can assign additional chores as a consequence. It’s apparent that your child isn’t going to be thrilled by completing extra tasks; however, the constructiveness is a positive spin versus making them write lines like Bart Simpson or sitting inside the house without privileges. Boredom shouldn’t be the consequence.
Parenting is a proactive process. When it becomes a reactive process, things can get overwhelming and fuzzy. Implementing positive discipline, when you are parenting better-behaved kids, is a great way to stay ahead and help your child thrive. Instead of micro managing your child’s actions, it’s important to equip them with the resources and fundamentals to grow into a self-sufficient adult.