By: Natasha Archary
Striking a balance between understanding friend and strict parent is a trick I haven’t quite mastered yet. As a first-time mom, I’m often left baffled by the antics of my four-year-old. What works for him one day, sets him off the next and I struggle with something most parents do. Discipline.
Growing up, I don’t remember ever speaking my mind with adults, let alone my parents. Brought up in a strict home, where children were seen and not heard, a single icy-stare from my mom or dad in public and I knew…not another toe out of line.
Did I feel my parents were tough on me? No doubt. Their expectations of both my younger brother and I were high. Speak when you’re spoken to, listen when they tell you not to do something or there will be repercussions.
Try that with my four-year-old and it ends with one or both of us in tears, after a screaming match. And all because I gave him a Spiderman cup instead of Iron Man.
Discipline through the ages
The parenting rulebook has certainly changed since I was a kid. New age parenting has more restrictions on the parents than ever before. Don’t hit your child. Don’t yell at your child. Don’t give your child too much affection. Give your child more freedom. Don’t be so hard on your child.
And cue society’s disdain for parents of today. I always laugh at adults who don’t have children who quip, “If I ever have a child, there’s no way I’ll allow that behavior.” Oh, just you wait. There’ll come a day when you too are staring at your child in disbelief, because how can something that tiny be that loud?
I understand that it’s a different era altogether. We’re in a more technologically advanced world and we’ve had to adapt faster than we were ready to. There’s no way my parents’ method of discipline will work for my son and I, not today.
Raising children to be adults we can be proud of
I’m not by any stretch of the parenting imagination, a strict parent. I swore to myself before becoming a parent that I would not raise my child to fear me. I grew up fearing, I believe, more than respecting my parents.
Most parents think that if a child fears you that equates respect. That could not be further from the truth. Respect is a two-way street. What does it mean to build a relationship of respect between parent and child? It means that the language of respect isn’t taught by preaching the analogy of respecting one’s elders. Children learn by assimilating action and a strong role model.
Researchers Hal Holloman and Peggy Yates studied respect and how it’s translated through the words we use. In their research, found in the Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions, what they learned is not surprising. When we give respect, we get it back in return. In respecting children and teenagers, they learn to believe in themselves as well as you, the parent. They feel valued and loved. We in turn, feel valued and loved.
The importance of no
Does establishing a bond based on respect mean that we now allow our kids free reign? Absolutely not. Many parents feel guilty for saying no too often with their kids. Children need a firm foundation. Rules, routine, a firm hand, an abundance of love and affection does not ruin a child.
I cringe when I’m out on weekends and see parents with their kids, wide eyed and bushy tailed, well past bedtime. “It’s the weekend, it’s allowed.” No. It really shouldn’t be allowed. You’re setting the foundation, and this is a very weak one. Entertaining a cycle of late nights and difficult mornings should not be the norm.
You want your child in bed at a certain time, you set the tone.
“No. You really can’t watch another episode of “Paw Patrol”. It’s bed time. No discussion. I’ll read you a story, but you have got to get some sleep.”
“No. I’m not giving you another popsicle. You’ve had enough sugar for today. You can have some water instead.”
It’s going to take some getting used to. But they do need to learn that a no every now and then, is not the end of the world. We’re creating children that are ill-disciplined with a general lack of respect for everyone and it’s sad.
If the situation in our schools is anything to go by, are we really being difficult parents by setting a few ground rules regarding discipline?