I hear parents say all the time that there are no parenting rules that always work because every kid is so different. I get this. One child will throw a 60 min tantrum if they can't have a cookie and a sister, in the same family, will be sad for 2 minutes and move on. This is where being an aware and intuitive parent matters.
The truth is there are a few rules that always work.
- Be consistent. I could write ten pages about this one. But what it boils down to is: mean what you say and say what you mean
- If you tell your kids they cant go outside when they stay home sick from school. And you don't let them play when Suzy comes over after school. They believe you!
- Do your kids know what to expect? Do you sometimes laugh when they say something crude. And then other times reprimand them? Be very clear about what the rules of the home are.
- Kids need nurturing and limits. Limits help your kids feel safe and they will be surprisingly more compliant and happier. Nurturing builds bonds and secure attachment
Pay attention to how you behave and what you say
- The way you react matters. If you are always emotionally dysregulated and reacting when your kids misbehave. They will copy you.
- Teach, teach, teach. Discipline means to teach, not to punish. That doesn't mean you won't use consequences. It means you will look at misbehaving kiddos and say to yourself, " what can I do to help them get their needs met in a better way"
- Be very clear about what you expect. Don't say "be a good girl at playtime". Instead say, "Today you are going to play time. There will be lots of kids playing with all the toys. At playtime the toys belong to everyone. You will need to take turns, share and use your words if you feel frustrated.”
Have a plan
- Routines are good for kids. It helps them feel in control when they know what to expect.
- Use small natural consequences when possible. Again it isn't about punishing the child. It is about helping them figure out that bad behavior doesn't work, and good behavior is more apt to get them what they want.
- An ounce of prevention is worth 100 pounds of cure. Prevent problems before they occur. For example, Get clothes out the night before school, give 5 and 2 minute warnings before transitions, make sure kids have plenty of sleep, etc. think ahead.
Tips and Tricks
- Play, be silly and have fun! It has been my experience that doing fun things as a family can help overcome a lot of "bad" parenting. As a family try to spend lots of time playing together... Weekends at the park, lake, street fair and weeknights playing ball, having trampoline contests and riding bikes.
- Play together, go outside.
- Turn off the TV, phone and computer.
- However remember, you are not your child's friend. You do not need to entertain them 24/7. This is about doing things together as a family.
- Explore, exercise, play. Create memories!! This will not work if you are constantly correcting or scolding your kids. Have fun!
- Parenting takes a lot of discipline. I'm talking about you, the parent. Kids model their parents. It takes personal discipline to act instead of react and to follow through EVERY time your child disobeys you.
- Your day will go more smoothly if you have a plan.
- Practicing effective parenting skills is a great opportunity to increase self-discipline. We do it because there is no job as important as raising children!
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