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

Spoiled Princess needs a Lesson in Gratitude || Teach Children Life isn’t always Fair

I read an article about parents who were suing the school over their traumatized 7 year old.  She was the only one of her friends with a packed lunch from home, the rest had money for cafeteria food.  She threw a fit because the cafeteria wouldn’t give her a free lunch. 

The parents accused the school of who knows what and they were threatening to take them to court.  The mother was actually crying at how upset her daughter was that she was the only one with a packed lunch.  If my kids had thrown a fit like that they’d be apologizing to the staff and clearing tables the next day at lunch!  

Those parents have what I call “Self-Entitled Parent Syndrome”.  It’s when parents expect their children to get special treatment.  

I’ve been to hundreds of kids’ concerts, games, etc. and there’s often one parent there with “Self-Entitled Parent Syndrome”‘.  They’re consoling their child over not getting the best position, the starring role, etc.  Some even complain to the adults running the event.

The only time my kids ever complained to be about something not being fair was by son in Grade 9.  He told me his teacher was marking him down as she just didn’t like him.  Her son was in the same class and my son was a better student so that may have had something to do with it, I don’t know.

My son and his friend decided to test the teacher and copied each other’s answers on a test.  His friend got an A, my son a C.  I could’ve gone to the principal with that but decided to be nice and just popped in on the teacher instead.  When she saw my son and I coming she actually looked scared, lol.  I never accused her of anything, was really nice and said I was just concerned over my son’s “low performance” in her class.  Never had a problem with her after that.

So of course I believe in standing up for your children, but only when necessary.   I was proud of my son for asking for my help as what 14 year old boy wants his mommy going to school to defend him?

If I ever complained to my Mom about life not being fair she’d tell me about how she grew up in the Great Depression with a can of spaghetti between 4 of them for dinner, on a good day.  How the school gave her cream to fatten her up as she was so skinny.  Nope, no point complaining to her about anything, lol.   

Children need to learn that life isn’t fair.  Sometimes you’re going to get the short straw in life.  The earlier you teach this to your children the better.  They’ll be happier, stronger and grateful that you didn’t have “Self-Entitled Parent Syndrome”.   

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Sign up to Newsletter for FREE “3 Step Parenting Plan” which helps you get organized and feel more in control of parenting.  

Toss Out Time Out || Parenting Advice

If you are currently using timeouts and they’re working for you, then keep going.  Don’t fix what’s not broken.  But if you’re using them and they’re not working then keep reading.

I’ve never used timeouts nor have I ever taught them.  I see them as a form of avoidance, “You go sit over there as I don’t know what to do with you.”  I find them weak as they don’t really teach any lessons other than how to sit in a chair in the corner.

Here are 2 scenarios, one with timeout, one without:

With Timeout:  Johnny hits Sally with the TV remote because she changed the channel away from his favourite show.  Mom puts him on the naughty chair in the corner for 5 minutes (1 minute for each year of his life).  When the 5 minutes are up she tells him he can get up and has to apologize to Sally for hitting her.  There, done.  A couple of days later he hits Sally again and the process is repeated because Johnny has only been taught that being mean leads to punishment.  He hasn’t been taught how to be nice.  Saying sorry isn’t much of a lesson, it’s just empty words to most kids, and adults.  The real lesson is learning how to treat people well and act appropriately.

My Method:  Johnny hits Sally with the remote control.  Mom takes the remote control away from Johnny and gives it back to Sally telling her she can watch her show.  She then hugs Sally to make sure she’s okay.  She calmly says to Johnny, “Come with me.”  She takes Johnny into Sally’s room and says, “For the next 2 days you are going to make Sally’s bed to make up for hitting her.  When that’s done you can watch your favourite show again.”  Then she walks him back to Sally and explains that he’ll be making her bed and says, “Sally, if you tease him about making your bed, you’ll make his bed instead.  Everyone understand?”  Let’s assume they agree then Mom says, “Now, how about we all play a game?”  Johnny has learned it’s not okay to hit people and how to be nice to people.  He’s also learned that TV is a privilege not a right.  The game at the end is a bonding exercise.  It’s to reinforce good relationships instead of focusing on negative behaviour.

Once a child has been punished you have to let it go and move on in a positive way.  Too often I see parents reminding kids about how rotten they’ve been.  Ugh, what does that do to self-esteem?

Oh and by the way, if Johnny doesn’t make Sally’s bed his favourite show is not allowed.  It’s used not as punishment for being bad, but reward for being good.  It’s in line with my “as soon as method”.

If you want help with this, check out my Coaching Page.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach