Raising children is the most rewarding thing that anyone can ever do with their life. No parent is perfect, but most of us try our best to do a good job when it comes to raising our children, and for the most part, even though we make mistakes here and there, I think that many of us do a pretty good job! Sometimes we struggle as parents with disciplining our children; we have to find the right balance between saying yes and saying no, and we have to know when to push matters and when to let things go. It is a fine line that we walk when disciplining and teaching our kids right from wrong, and sometimes we need help with this!
If you are having some issues with correcting your child’s behavior, and you are finding that what worked on you as a child, is not working on them, (does it ever?) then you need to learn how to effectively set limits and use choices to correct bad behavior and teach your child how to express themselves without being “bad.”
In life, no matter who you are or how old you are, every decision you make has consequences. Our good choices reward us with good consequences, and our poor decisions leave us with bad consequences. This is what you need to implement into your child’s life – once they learn this, and learn to make good choices, their lives will be a lot easier! Learning how to make good choices can start young, and setting limits is how you can teach them to make good choices while disciplining them at the same time.
For example, let’s say your child (we’ll call him Timmy) refuses to behave at the dinner table. Instead of getting upset, yelling, or sending him to his room, try looking straight at him, and saying calmly, “Timmy, if you choose to behave at the table, you may stay and enjoy dessert with the rest of the family. If you choose not to behave, you will have to go to your room and you may not have dessert today.” This technique puts the power of choosing in Timmy’s hands, and will teach him that his choices have consequences. After stating this to him, give him some time to process what you have told him. Do not, I repeat, do not make his choice for him, and above all, do not back down and give in at this time! Children need structure, and when parents continually give in and go back on their word, this causes chaos in the home, because who has control when the parent never does what they say they are going to do? Timmy has the control. Not good!
After Timmy has had a chance to process the information you gave him, if he is still continuing to act up, or if he is trying to get you to negotiate with him, simply restate the limits. Don’t negotiate with him, and don’t get upset at this point. If Timmy still does not behave after you have restated the limits a couple of times, then it is time to follow up on those limits. Take him to his room, and let him know that he is going to his room and missing dessert because HE chose to misbehave. A good 90 percent of the time, children (and most adults) will choose the positive consequence over the bad. Who wouldn’t? Sometimes however, if the parents have not been following up on their threats, the child will test the limits because they think you won’t actually follow through.