Parenting isn’t easy 😕 . Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do, you do the wrong thing. If you don’t discipline your child enough, then they’ll grow up to be entitled brats. Discipline them too much, and they’ll lash out in retaliation.
It’s all very confusing. The following 7 tips will help you navigate the complex maze that is parenthood:
Parents are people, too. It can be hard to stay consistent with one set of rules day in and day out and not add and remove particular rules you enforce whenever it’s convenient. After all, you’re only human – sometimes you’re going to realize a rule you once thought was necessary doesn’t make sense, and other times you’re going to discover that something you once dismissed as unnecessary is actually something you need.
But you need to do your best to keep your rules as consistent as you can. Consistency, more than anything else, will convince children to trust what you say and act accordingly. Take some time to sit down and define what exactly you expect from your child and what rules are needed for your kid to meet those expectations. Then stick to that plan.
Try to See Things from Their Perspective
Whenever you tell your kids not to do something, they’re going to complain that it’s not fair. And 9 times out of 10, they’ll be wrong, just complaining because things didn’t go their way.
Now and then, though, they’ll have a point. Sometimes you’re not being fair. Listen to your child every time they talk. Always be open to reversing a parenting decision if your child makes a convincing case for doing so (though it must be a very convincing case, as you do still need to project an image of consistency). This will help give you the trust you need to have a healthy, honest relationship with your child.
Set a Good Example
“Do as I say, not as I do” is a common refrain you hear parents tell their children.
This isn’t a smart strategy for getting your kids to do what you want them to do. Instead, do as you want them to do, don’t just say it. Want your children to brush their teeth and floss twice a day to stave off cavities and gum disease? Practice good oral hygiene habits yourself. Want them to resolves conflicts peacefully without resorting to violence? Be non-violent yourself. Et cetera.
Recent studies have shown that physically punishing a child is an ineffective way to curb unwanted behavior, and it can also set your child up for violent tendencies and mental health problems down the road. There are better ways to discipline a child.
Indeed, there are better ways than spanking to enforce the rules. Generic punishments like time-outs also aren’t all that effective either.
It’s better to pay attention to what your child is passionate about, such as a specific TV show or website and take that away as a punishment. Or you could start serving Brussel sprouts on what is usually Fried Chicken Friday. Whatever you do, make your discipline (as well as rewards) custom-tailored to your kid’s likes and dislikes.
Earn Respect, Don’t Demand It
A lot of parents believe that they deserve immediate respect from their child. And sure, parents do put a roof over everyone’s heads and they did bring the kid into this world and all that. But that doesn’t make you automatically worthy of respect.
You need to work hard. Better yourself. Respect others. The best way to get your kids to respect you isn’t to punish if they don’t. It’s to make an effort to be objectively worthy of respect in the first place.
Be Their Friend, To an Extent
One of Machiavelli’s most memorable quotes is “It is better to be feared than loved.” Many people take this approach to parent, believing that relating to their kids on a personal level takes away their power as an authority figure.
But fear shouldn’t be your only tool. Your children need to feel like they can trust you. So while you can’t let your kids walk all over you, at the same time you should treat them like a friend. Joke around and trade stories. This will actually make punishments more effective, as they’ll be a memorable break from how you usually treat your child rather than the status quo.
Remember, these tips are just guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Every kid is different – you may find that one or more of these tips doesn’t work for your particular child, or even that the opposite is an effective strategy for you. Just pay attention and do your best and you’ll already be better than a lot of parents out there.
Dr. Jonathan Everett received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington and completed his undergraduate studies in biochemistry at Washington State University. He currently runs a dental practice in Kirkland with his partner. A member of the American Dental Association and Academy of Operative Dentistry, Dr. Everett strives to continue providing the most advanced and clinically-proven dental care available in the region. Dr. Everett is the recipient of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists Award.