On July 21, I posted a blog suggesting parents need to be on the same page in disciplining their child. In other words, it ultimately becomes ineffective to take the roles of good cop, bad cop. It is also ineffective if one of you is a poor role model. As an example, you tell your child how dangerous it is to smoke, and then light up yourself. Both of you need to always do as you say, and what you agree upon, and don’t break the rule.
More on that now. Let’s take a look at a possible scenario. Mr. and Mrs. Smith disagree on negative behavior consequences. Mr. Smith is strict, and believes their daughter, Kirby, needs to “toe the line.” Mrs. Smith is more democratic in her child rearing procedures.
Whenever Mr. Smith disagrees with her methods, he interferes in front of Kirby, and not only does an argument commence, but Kirby being a bright kid, understands how to manipulate a situation, and sees her mother is more flexible. This is the weak link, and she knows where she can insinuate herself. Of course, Mrs. Smith will not abdicate her own power, and will interject herself when her husband is trying out his disciplinary methods.
What to do?
Instead of trying to be “good” parents, based on your own upbringing or your conception of how a “good” parent should behave, be a responsible parent. Here are some ways a “good” parent may behave, and how it can affect your child:
“I must be in control and demand obedience” – therefore the child can learn to lie, steal and lacks self-discipline
“I must be a perfect role model and am overly concerned about what others think” – therefore the child learns to worry about others’ opinions
“I must have a perfectly behaved child” – the child then believes he is never good enough
“I am right and my child is wrong” – translates to low self- esteem or copy-cat behavior
This is a possible behavior of a “good” parent.
* Pities the child who is having a melt-down to avoid punishment
* Takes responsibility for their child’s poor behavior or academic failure, such as telling a teacher the child has never acted that way at home and it must be another child’s fault, or that the teacher doesn’t have the proper behavioral management strategies
* Overprotects the child
* Gives, with strings attached, such as, “if you get B’s in all your classes, you’ll get a new bike.” It’d be better to say, “if you get B’s in all your classes, we will be so proud of you.”
Set realistic standards which focus on the task at hand. Have the courage to explain to the child that you’ve made mistakes, and you’re not concerned with mistakes but how to avoid them next time.
How about being a responsible parent? Here are some ways to do this. Discuss this with your spouse or partner so you can be on the same page.
* Permit the child to have choices, and encourage the child. For instance, you might ask the child (depending upon the age), what they think would be a fair punishment for behavior such as hitting their sibling, not doing their homework, speaking disrespectfully, or breaking a curfew. Let the child make the choice, and give them your suggestions.
* Promote equality, encourage mutual respect, and avoid making the child feel guilty. Parents will talk about their own mistakes, and have the courage to admit when they are wrong, listen, and respect what the child is saying. Repeat it back to make sure the child understands what he/she said, and can clarify if not, and then calmly offer your point of view. Focus on the strengths of the child before bringing up the weaknesses, encourages independence by designating chores around the house, and rewarding positive behaviors by encouraging words or material objects.
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