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.