When it comes to discipline, kids probably don’t know that at times, parents are making it up as they go along. Each child has a different personality, and along with it a unique twist on the discipline issue. But, here’s what I tell parents: “Get on the same page.” Consistency is key to raising responsible kids. When parents work together toward the same goal, it’s much easier to raise responsible kids. Here are six essentials for making discipline work in your home:
1. Rules without relationship equals rebellion. All families have rules but they also need relationship. If most of the communication parents have with their kids is focused on rules, it won’t take long for these conversations—and the relationship—to grow cold, allowing rebellion to take root. Parents should make sure there is plenty of relational time to hang out with their kids; to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. True, issues need to be addressed, but timing for when to lay down the rules and when to engage in relationship are key to finding success in discipline.
2. Choose Your Battles Wisely. Not every problem is worth fighting over. If parents find themselves growing more and more agitated when kids act up, chances are that they’re trying to fight too many battles. When parents choose to battle an issue, they’d better be right and they’d better win. Parents who don’t choose their battles wisely can end up lacking the energy and resources to stay in engaged down the road.
3. Nagging doesn’t work. Frankly, nagging is a poor and lazy way to parent. It shuts down intimacy and it sets kids up for future relationship failure. A home filled with negativity and criticism simply breeds rebellion and negativity.
4. Yelling crushes and shuts down your child’s spirit. The more parents yell, the less kids listen. Yelling is ineffective. It conveys anger, wounds kids, and creates distance in relationship. All close relationships experience anger, and not all anger is bad. However, how you deal with anger makes all the difference!
5. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Parents aren’t perfect, so when you blow it, be quick to admit it. Contrary to what many parents think, this won’t cause kids to disrespect you; it actually will bring you closer in the long run. Apologies from parents provide great role modeling to kids about what healthy relationships look like.
6. Clearly Express Your Expectations. When boundaries and consequences are clearly set and understood, much of the emotion is taken out of the process when parents need to apply discipline. And when kids follow their parents’ expectations, they feel good about themselves and feel a greater sense of security.