Children require rules and attention
All children tend to test their parents’ expectations. At times they misbehave to get something - an object, attention and peer approval. Parents can be too permissive as they are fearful of hurting their child’s psyche and as a result, children feel much loved but very insecure. So these children have low self-esteem. Kids grow up with no relationship with the parent and feel abandoned. The authoritarian parent keeps arguing with the child and he/she grows up to be a rebel and cannot wait to leave home when grown up. Striking a balance is key.
The best parenting occurs when the parent is loving yet firm. There is a bonding between the parent and child with mutual respect and discipline is not shirked. We have all heard of the saying, “spare the rod and spoil the child”; we must remember that children should be rebuked and reprimanded when they do something wrong, they should know what mistakes they have made and will learn not to repeat them. Overlooking mistakes might get a parent brownie points from his child but it will not help the child grow. In fact, it is detrimental to the child’s learning process. A child who understands discipline develops high self-esteem and good coping skills.
Discipline should never include violence. House rules give structure to the child and consistent time set for meals, studies and bedtime teach the child self-control. Develop rules and expectations in advance. Never insult your child, tone down your voice while speaking to them and use less of don’ts and rather rephrase your sentences to sound more positive. For e.g, ‘Don’t take the toys from your sister’ should be rephrased to, ‘You have played for some time with the toys so give them to your sister.’ Don’t give in to the child’s temper tantrum as he/she will learn that this behavior can give results if you cave in.
Focus on the behavior and not the child. Withhold something that the child values from him/her. Misbehavior should be immediately responded to for younger kids so that they can relate the behavior and the punishment. For e.g. if your child misbehaves in the morning and you tell her that she cannot watch TV in the evening, she may not relate the behavior easily with the discipline. You can let the child see what will happen if she/he does not behave, e.g. if she breaks her toy, she will not have any toy to play with. Your child will learn best when she can relate it to herself. Else, create a consequence, if your child does not pick up her toys, you will take them away and not give her for the whole day. This should be then followed through with firmness and not shouting.
Give your child choices as they grow up. Reward for desirable behavior and model desired behavior. But be aware of what your child can achieve and what he/she cannot. Sometimes, your child cannot do something because he/she does not understand it. Be assertive when you set rules but also be consistent.
One thing for sure is that children internalize a standard set by their parents. They observe and absorb from their parents, teachers and older students readily. So, set an example with your own behavior. Children will imbibe the values their parents believe in. Listen and communicate with your child. Pay attention to his/her feelings. Share your knowledge and wisdom. Educate the child by showing to him/her what is valued. If a child likes his friend, make him think why. Once he/she recognizes goodness in others, he/she will inculcate it as well.