child development, Relationships

The Process of Negotiating the Rules with your Child

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We all know as parents that discussing and negotiating the rules with our children is never easy.  Children are all very different, and what might need to be a rule for one, may not even be an issue for another.  That being said, there are many parameters that we set as parents that are the hard and fast rules – those with no ‘wiggle room.’ Those are the rules set forth to protect our child’s health, safety and well-being.  These rules and their consequences should be very clearly defined and it should be understood by all involved that they are there for a very important reason and that they are ‘all or nothing.’

Rules that keep our children safe are of the utmost importance.

These could include everything from teaching youngsters not to touch the hot stove to teaching your school aged child the importance of obeying the laws while riding their bicycle.

Children need to understand these rules are to be followed to the letter and there is no room for negotiation here.

For adolescents and teenagers, such rules should include expectations about drinking, the use of illegal drugs, or safe defensive driving.  These rules are also imperative to a child’s health, well-being and safety.  There should be no room for experimentation or relaxing the rules in specific social situations.

There are rules that can be fairly and equitably negotiated with your children as well.

Rules regarding how many hours per week can be spent on video game playing, what time a child is expected home for dinner, what time each night homework is to be completed, or how late a teenager is allowed to stay out on weekend nights are all rules that can be discussed openly and honestly between you and your child.

These should also be consistent, however.  Don’t’ allow 11 p.m. one weekend night and then tell your teenager 9:30 the following weekend night when going out with the same group of friends.  If your teenager broke the 11 p.m. curfew the weekend before, the consequence of losing the privilege of going out that weekend should be strictly enforced.  Don’t bend the rule just because your teenager seems genuinely sorry and promises never to do it again.  Consequences should be consistent, fair, and always followed through.

family conflict, Relationships

Harsh Discipline: Does it do More Harm than Good?

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Recent studies suggest that low-income parents tend to endorse much harsher discipline, partially because they hold stronger beliefs about the value of spanking and experience higher levels of stress.

However, parents who work in high-stress jobs or are stay-at-home parents who are feeling frustrated or isolated are also at risk.  It’s imperative that parents recognize their tendency to punish a child too severely and take the needed steps to make sure the punishment is appropriate for their child’s age, temperament and maturity level.

The study’s finding showed that parents from lower income levels or work high pressure jobs are more stressed, and they react more emotionally to their child’s behavior, and thus use harsher discipline. A parent in this situation may benefit from outside assistance and learning about alternative disciplinary strategies that are more appropriate and less harsh.

It’s also important for a parent to realize that children thrive on praise.  Parents in such a situation may always jump to discipline but fail to praise their child for their good deeds, behaviors and traits.  Children instinctively want to please their parents and make them proud.

By encouraging positive behavior, the parent will most likely discourage the behavior that has driven them in the past to punish too harshly. 

In order to encourage positive behavior deserving of praise, parents might want to consider giving their child a task they know they’re able to accomplish, and praise their efforts along the way.  Parents need to also consistently praise their children for the positive traits they possess.  Their child might be good at math in school, helpful to their little brother or sister, or is good at drawing pictures.  Praise these good traits and the child is likely to respond by acting appropriately and behaving positively in order to gain more praise.

In the end, it’s important to remember that a child is just that – a child.  A parent should make a concerted effort to make sure the discipline is appropriate and take care of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally so they can optimally provide for their child’s physical and emotional well-being.

Relationships

Follow Through Is the Key to Successful Discipline

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Let’s face it.  There are just some days when it would just seem easier to let your child have his way than feeling like you’re fighting a losing battle when trying to discipline them.  They beg, plead, cry, barter and scream – anything to get out of doing the time for their crime.  However, don’t lose your strength and your will during this time.  It’s times like these when consistent disciplinary action is imperative to teaching your child positive and acceptable behaviors.  There is no room for negotiation when it comes to bad behaviors and there should be no room for exceptions when it comes time for punishing misdeeds or bad behavior.

Hopefully, before any misdeeds occur, you’ve sat down with your child and discussed the consequences of misdeeds and inappropriate behavior or decisions.  Be concise and consistent when discussing these consequences so that when the time to implement them comes, you can follow through with ease.  Children are classically testing the boundaries and limits set on them on a continual basis, and the temptation to ‘bend the rules’ just once or twice can be overwhelming when they’re really trying your patience.  But be firm yet fair.

Emphasize that this was the understood consequence for this particular misdeed or inappropriate action, and that now is not the time to negotiate.  Afterwards, take time out to discuss the situation with your child, and if it seems that perhaps a consequence that worked at first isn’t working anymore, rethink that punishment and negotiate with your child.  Of course, parameters that are set for their well-being or safety should never be negotiated.  But in other instances, it may be time to develop a new consequence based on your child’s age, temperament or maturity level.

It’s also imperative that your spouse and any other adult caregivers are all on the same page and following through on punishments with the same level of consistency and clarity.  Should you determine that what was once working isn’t working anymore and develop a new parameter, be sure all adult caregivers are brought into the loop so that follow through remains consistent and clear.

 

 

child development

Expect Only the Best from Your Child

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Expect the best from your child.  If you expect the best behavior and performance you’re your child, it’s often what you will get.  Children pick up on our beliefs about them, form a self-concept that matches that belief, and perform accordingly. If we expect them to be lazy, they’ll be lazy, which will confirm our expectations for them, and the cycle toward failure is started. If, on the other hand, we expect our kids to be successful, productive, creative, and responsible and honestly believe it to be true, then our children can’t help but rise to the occasion and confirm our best opinions of them with their positive actions. So expect nothing but the best from your children and watch them fulfill your expectations.

Praise your child often when they perform a good deed or accomplish a new task.  Set simple, clear and consistent rules so your child knows exactly what is expected and the consequences of misbehaving or breaking the rules.

Maintain a consistent daily routine for your child as much as possible, and make sure your child gets lots of physical activity and time to play and socialize with their friends.  Encourage your child to learn how to make appropriate choices, and encourage your child to do things for themselves. Allow your child to talk about strong feelings, which will help them work through their anger and frustration.

Above all, be a positive role model for your child, as their strongest educator is your example.  Take care of yourself, and expect the best from yourself.  Make appropriate choices and be firm yet fair when disciplining your child. Make sure to spend lots of quality time with your child, and encourage them to become involved in activities that foster cooperation and a sense of accomplishment.  If you have great expectations of your child, you’ll be greatly pleased in the end.

Relationships

Do As I Say and As I Do

Photo of happy boy and his father tying necktiesChildren learn to imitate at a very young age.  It’s how they learn to behave, care for themselves, develop new skills, and communicate with others. From their earliest moments, they watch you closely and pattern their own behavior and beliefs after yours. Your examples become permanent images, which will shape their attitudes and actions for the rest of their life.

It’s important to be responsible, consistent and loving with your child.  This also holds true for the relationship you have with your spouse, your parents, and other family members and friends that are also a part of your child’s life.  Own up to mistakes when you make them, and communicate openly and honestly with all family members.

It’s also important to take good care of yourself.  When we’re focusing on what’s best for our child it’s easy to neglect our own needs.  Your child and your family are counting on you physically and emotionally, so it’s imperative that you teach your child by example that taking care of yourself helps you to take care of them and the rest of your family.  This shows your child that not only do you love them and the rest of the family, but you love yourself as well.  This is an important step in teaching your child about self esteem.  This may involve getting a sitter and treating yourself out to dinner and a movie, or doing another favorite activity on your own.  This teaches your child that you are not only their parent, but your own person with your interests and needs, and also gives them a chance to show you how well they can do without you with them for a while.

It’s also important to nurture your relationship with your spouse.

Let your child see you communicate in a positive and healthy manner with one another, and show love and affection for one another so your child can begin to learn early on what a healthy marriage should be like. 

You’ll soon see your child patterning many of his behaviors after your own.  So make sure that what you say and do around your child will help build a strong sense of security and self esteem.