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Am I a Bad Parenting because I don’t know how to Discipline my Kids?

I’ve had many clients ask me if they’re bad parents just because they don’t have a clue how to effectively discipline their children.  I always answer with a chuckle as if every parent who couldn’t discipline is bad than there sure are a lot of lousy parents out there.  

Not knowing how to discipline children is extremely common.  How would you know how to do it if you haven’t had children before?  Yes, some of it is common sense but a lot is training and practice.  I learned how to discipline kids by babysitting and volunteering in daycare centres when I was about 13.  I was always put with the challenging kids as enjoyed figuring out how to handle them.  I used a combination of leadership and fun which I carried right through all the kids/teens I worked with through out the years and certainly while raising my own two kids.  

So if you don’t know how to discipline, then you can learn how to do it.  Discipline is what leads to self-discipline.  Kids aren’t born with self-discipline, it’s up to us to teach then, that’s why disciplining them is so important. 

You can’t effectively discipline without your children’s respect, but once you have it discipline is approximately:

99% positive encouragement and 1% punishment  (if even that)

So what if you’re currently at 50% and 50%, or maybe even worse?  How long does it take to get respect?  That depends on 2 things:

  • the age of your children
  • your willingness to replace old habits with new ones

I’ve had clients who saw huge changes in just 2 days and others who needed several months to get things sorted out.  It’s all up to you and how quickly you can change your parenting style.  You don’t need to change everything, often it’s something really small that you’re not even aware of that needs adjusting.

What you say and how you say it are extremely important.  Here’s a good example of how NOT to talk to a 6 year old who is consistently cheeky and defiant:

“Why are you always so difficult?  What’s wrong with you?  Do you want to have media blackout for the next month?!” 

A better way:

“You know it’s not okay to be cheeky so there’ll be no media tonite.  But instead, how about we play a board game?”

You’re replacing a negative situation with a positive one.  Family games nights are bonding and fun.  Media blackout is the consequence for being cheeky but that’s it, forgive and forget.  Move on and replace the negative with a positive.  

So how do you handle it if your child flips out over media blackout and throws the board game across the room?  You completely ignore it, let them work it out on their own.  You are calm, silent and disengaged.  

Of course there’s a lot more to it but that’s the basic premise.  You lay down the law, follow through and don’t get pulled into any dialogue explaining yourself.  If you allow yourself to be pulled into conversations whereby you’re explaining your authority … you’ve just lost it.  

Check out how to get your kids to do what you want.  It’s my “As Soon As Method”.  

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Note:  Don’t forget to sign up to my Newsletter to get your FREE “3 Step Parenting Plan” which will help you get started with Discipline.  Just to go the top right of the page.

Teach your Kids to be Self-Disciplining

I chose the path of least resistance with parenting.  I taught my kids to be self-disciplining.

They understood from a very young age that everything was up to them.  They could be good and life would be great, or they could misbehave and have no TV, scrub the floor, etc.  They didn’t even blame me for this, they just disciplined themselves.  I remember my son was running late for school one morning and said, “Ugh, no video games for me tonite, sorry Mom.”

Yes, that’s right, he not only disciplined himself, but he apologized to me for running late.

He understood accountability.  Once your kids get that, you’re on easy street right through the teen years.  It’s wasn’t my fault if they couldn’t watch TV, it was theirs.  They never questioned the rules as saw them as fair and reasonable.

Now … if my rules were unreasonable, inconsistent and if I lost my temper, that wouldn’t have worked.  I was just the calm presence in all this, was just there to help them reason through things.  Never really told them what to do, just asked them what they thought they should do and they always came up with reasonable responses.  Sometimes they were too tough on themselves so I’d pull them back in a bit.  They were never not tough enough.  Interesting isn’t it?

When you put your trust in your children to do the right thing, that’s often what they do.  Give children more control over how their lives go they tend to be more mature, more accountable and just easier all round.

If you’re struggling with discipline, make sure your rules are fair and consistent.  Also, when they mess up, don’t harp on it.  Impose a consequence then suggest you all play a game together or something.  The consequence is the punishment, no need to keep reminding them they did something wrong.  That’s bordering on bullying.

Being fun, supportive and consistent is so important.  They’ll want to please you and dread disappointing you.

I guarantee this stuff works.  It’s all about you setting yourself as the calm leader.  No lectures, no yelling, no temper.  Always calm and reasonable.  Tell them how great they are, have trust in them … see what happens.

Lots more about how to Discipline here.

If you want my help navigating through this, check out my Coaching page. 

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Note:  Don’t forget to sign up for my friend Karmen’s interview series on young adulthood.  I’m one of the many guests she’s interviewed and it’s all free.  My interview is all about parenting.

Dealing with ADHD Emotions in Children

Emotions can be difficult for your ADHD child to control.  But there are a few things you can do to help:

  • Provide Structure:  Provide as much structure as possible.  That doesn’t mean you have them over-scheduled, just that there is a very predictable structure with every daily task:  breakfast, getting dressed, dinner, homework, bedtime.
  • Stay calm:  If your child is acting out it’s important that you don’t get pulled into the chaos.  Stay calm and don’t raise your voice.  Allowing yourself to get upset just makes matters worse.  After the scene is over, go into your bedroom and scream into a pillow if needed.
  • Help them Self-Soothe:  I worked with a child with ADHD who just couldn’t sit still to concentrate on his schoolwork.  He was very bright, just couldn’t calm down.  I asked him what he did to calm himself down and he looked at me all confused as didn’t have a clue how to do that.  I tried several activities with him but the only thing that worked was swinging.  So that’s how we did his schoolwork.  We went to the playground and swung and worked.  Turns out I can’t swing and read so ended up soooo nauseous.  But, we got through tons of schoolwork that afternoon.  I wonder if fidget spinners were created with kids with ADHD in mind.  Their hands are spinning so their minds can focus on homework. 

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.  It includes my FREE “3 Step Parenting Plan” which is a great way to introduce structure into the family.  Sign up is at the top right of this page.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Parenting in Different Countries | My Australian Story

I’m from Vancouver, BC.  Met an Aussie on Halloween 1988 and by Valentine’s Day 1989 I was married, pregnant and living in Australia.  Partner lived in Australia so we’d only spent 3 weeks together in those first few months.  Pretty crazy and not something I’d ever recommend as now I know it takes 2 years to really get to know someone.  Anyhoo, was a successful marriage in that we had 2 beautiful children, lasted 15 years we have a very good relationship as far as exes go.  Spend birthdays, Xmas, etc. together with our kids.

He moved out New Years Day 2004 and we all moved back to Canada in March 2005.  Was not an easy move and not one I ever thought I’d do as Australia was home.  But, my wonderful mom was in her 80’s and had failing health.  She needed help, she needed me here. 

You can just imagine how the conversation went with my ex when I told him I wanted to move back to Canada with the kids, and I wanted him to come with us.  He’s Australian, loves Australia, as I do.  Anyway, he very graciously agreed to the move as visited my Mom and saw the condition she was in.

We had 5 wonderful years with her and 6 1/2 more challenging years as she suffered dementia and several health problems.  She died in my arms in June, 2016.

Kids were 10 and 15 when we immigrated to Vancouver so spent all their formative years here.  So, doubt we’ll ever end up living in Australia again.  But never say never :).

When I first moved back to Canada I knew I was going to start a parenting business but I had a slight disadvantage:  I’d raised my kids in Australia.  It was profoundly different from parenting in Canada, more so than I would’ve thought.  

A friend sent me this great article on Motherhood Around the World, here’s the Australian section.

Loved the article on the mom from Vancouver living in Australia, related to a lot of what she said.  The big difference between us was that she associated with expats.  I avoided that which I think helped me to assimilate quickly.

Funny Sideline:  When I first moved to Australia, the slang was the biggest challenge, didn’t know what they were saying half the time.  I worked in an office in Sydney before my son was born.  My boss asked me to get him a rubber and I just stood there stunned.  A co-worker came over and explained to me that in Australia a rubber is an eraser.  I said, “Thank gawd as I was just about to review my job description.”  Another time I was teaching an aerobics class and suggested they all root for one another as it was going to be a challenging class.  Their eyes widened and everyone just stared at me kinda frozen.  Someone walked over to the stage and whispered, “I’m assuming you don’t know that in Australia to root means to screw.”  My mic picked it up so the whole room heard.  I said, “Okay then, how about we just encourage one another”.  Aussies have a great sense of humour so those awkward moments were great.

The challenge with coaching parents in Canada was helping clients through their insecurities.  They all felt they were being judged.  I was confused by this as had never experienced anything like it in Australia.  Moms in Australia are non-competitive and very supportive of one another.  In playgroups and playgrounds we used to sit around and talk about what lousy moms we were, how horrible our kids were, etc.  Aussie humour is self-deprecating so that transferred right into parenting.  Also had a lot of Kiwi (New Zealand) friends who were the same.

A huge part of what I deal with with my Canadian and American clients is helping them deal with other people’s judgment, feeling almost bullied by other moms.  I rarely see that in clients from other parts of the world.

If you aren’t surrounded by supportive moms, go out and find them, they’re there.  Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s often just about survival.  There are lots of down-to-earth moms out there to hang out with, you may have to be the one to start the ball rolling, but go for it, what have you got to lose?

I’m planning on starting a little support group for new moms in my area (Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, BC).  I’m just looking for a private space, just for 4-5 of us plus strollers and little ones.  We’ll be sitting around talking about what mothering is really like:  the ups, downs and funny things that happen.  I’ll also be answering any questions but it’s going to be very casual.  The best part is that it’s FREE.  

If you know of moms who would be interested in this group, please let me know.  I’ll be talking about it more once I get the space set up and decide how I want to format it.  Your suggestions are welcome.  I don’t really want to call it a support group, more of just a friendly chat among new moms.

Feel free to email me at:  Lisa@BratBusters.com

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

My sick, messy, athletic morning … it’ll make sense as you read

Totally off parenting topic but I just have to share my early morning experience.  I’ve had a lousy cold for a week now, daughter got it also.  I was up coughing throughout the night, not getting much sleep.  Was afraid of waking her so decided to just get up by around 4:00 a.m.

Thought a hot cuppa tea would help the coughing so got all set up in front of computer at my desk with pillow on lap as coughing muffler.  There, was all set to just relax and watch some YouTube.

Had my first sip of tea and put it down crooked on the coaster and it tipped over and splatted all across the living room!!!  Ugh, I just put my tired sick head on the desk and started to cry.  Realizing I was being pathetic I stopped crying, got up and tried to walk around the mess but didn’t realize how far it had spread.

I realized as soon as I stepped I was in trouble.  My left foot hit the wet floor and slipped way out in front as my right leg went out behind me and because I can’t do the splits my body slapped sideways right into the tea.

There I was, splatted out on the floor covered in tea.  I could feel the giggles coming on which I tried to suppress as would just make me cough more and might wake up my daughter.  So I slithered over to grab the pillow and laid there coughing and laughing.  Took several minutes before I could get control of myself and get up and clean up.

So … how was your start to the day?