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The Best Parenting Advice Ever (from a complete non-expert) - Part Two

Yesterday I talked about the first piece of essential advice for parents: Being Consistent.  Today I am going to give you my second piece of advice. 

  • Do NOT be emotional when disciplining.  This one is oh so hard, at least for me.  I am an emotional person, and I love my son so much it is really easy for me to get incredibly emotionally involved. 
    • Why are emotions detrimental to the discipline process?  I don't know for sure.  I have a couple of ideas though, which of course, I will share here.
      • It undermines your authority.  When you are yelling and ranting at your children, or crying about their behavior it does two things.
        • It gives them power over your behavior.  Power is addictive.  They don't consciously understand this, at least not when they are little, but they do know that if they push the right buttons you end up reacting, and for some children that is reason enough to push the buttons.
        • It doesn't provide an example of self-control.  We expect our children to do things they don't want to do without throwing tantrums, but often times when our children don't behave the way we want them to we throw grown-up (or not so grown-up) temper tantrums.  It is hypocritical, which is never good, and it is making it more difficult for them to behave properly, by providing a poor behavior model.
      • You won't make the discipline decisions you want to when you are reacting emotionally.  Most people do or say things that they regret when they are angry, and this is no different with your children.  As humans we will make mistakes, but we should try our best not to, and delaying discipline until you are able to do it unemotionally is a great way to do that. 
      • It is probably less effective.  If someone is angry with you, it is human nature (at least my nature) to get angry back.  I imagine that when you send your child to time out while you are angry and yelling, they spend the time thinking about how mean you are, rather than thinking about what they chose to do that was wrong.
How do you remain unemotional about your discipline?  Well if you find a secret formula for it, please let me know!  Until then, this is what I do.
  • Leave the situation.  If you cannot control your temper or sadness, make sure your children are safe (inside, not with the chemicals, etc.) and tell them that right now you can't discipline them appropriately, so you have to discuss it with them later, leave the room, or have them leave the room.  When I am to angry, I tell my son to go to his room so I can discipline him later.  Then when I am calm I go back up and discuss what happened, then send him to the corner or take away a toy.
  • Discipline early.  Don't wait until the kids have been driving you insane all day to discipline them.  At that point you are at the end of the rope, and your patience is all gone.  Instead, every time they act up, deal with it.  This goes along with being consistent.
  • Work on your voice of authority.  You should be firm, but not angry.  Pleasant, but not cheerful (you don't want them to think that you LIKE getting them in trouble).  Having an authoritative voice can work wonders.
  • Have a plan. Have a rough idea of what you are going to do when a certain misbehavior arises. While it isn't essential that you always do the same thing, if you are having an issue with a certain misbehavior, it can be very helpful to have a plan for when it occurs. One resource for this (which I don't have, but would like) is the If-Then Chart from Doorposts.
Disciplining in love is so important.  When you react in anger, instead of disciplining your child to train them up in the way they should go, and teaching them the proper way to behave, you are punishing them for challenging you. 

While I think there are a number of other things that will really help you in training your children for adulthood, I think that being consistent and unemotional about your discipline, are the two most important things you can do. 

What do you think is the most important piece of parenting advice?  Is there one thing you struggle with the most?


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