Some parents may worry that setting strict rules at home may distance them from their children. But this simply isn’t the case.
Though they may complain and get upset when you become the enforcer, they realize deep down that this shows you care. These parameters you set forth and enforce make your child feel loved, safe, and secure.
Our Role as a Parent
We watch our children grow right before our very eyes.
It seems like yesterday they were a baby learning to crawl, walk, and feed themselves, and now they’re in school, involved in activities, making friends, and learning to be more and more independent.
Parents before us have said that from the time they’re born, we are constantly learning to let go.
With that said, our parenting strategies have to change.
As our child grows, develops, learns, and matures, so does our parenting role.
And as your child grows, you undoubtedly discover they have their own unique personality and temperament.
You’ve probably unconsciously redeveloped your parenting skills around the individual needs of your child. And no two children are exactly alike, and therefore, neither should your parenting style.
Guide your Child
Some children may need more guidance and feel more unsure of themselves.
We’ve become used to having to guide, lead, show and encourage that child consistently through their childhood while still trying to encourage independence.
Yet another child may be very intrinsically motivated and very willful and not need a great deal of guidance or leadership from you.
While you encourage their independence, it’s also important that you also encourage their ability to ask for help when needed and continue to praise good deeds, actions, and traits.
Listen to Them
The most important tools you have in order to successfully adjust your parenting skills are your eyes and your ears.
We have to see what’s going on with our child and we have to hear what they are telling us.
It’s important that we encourage our child to be their own individual while still being available to them at whatever level or degree they need us to be. Sometimes it’s situation-specific as well.
A child may not need us to be as directly involved with their schooling to ensure their overall academic success.
But they may need us to be more involved in their social life as they may be feeling a bit shaky or scared when it comes to making new friends or meeting new people.
So the bottom line is this: as your child grows and changes, so should your parenting skills.
Keep your eyes and ears open and communicate honestly and openly with your child, and you’ll both mature gracefully.
Enforcing Rules at Home
It’s never easy developing and introducing rules.
Parents may tend to avoid setting rules because they fear confrontation and unpleasantness.
But the uncomfortable stuff isn’t necessarily a reflection on your relationship with your child, it’s just the nature of adolescence — breaking rules and pushing limits is a part of growing up.
We tend to want to be our child’s friend sometimes, and when we’re laying down the law that just isn’t possible.
Our primary role is to protect, nurture and provide for our children.
Discuss Consequences Ahead of Time
When kids break rules, parents often overreact with harsh, disproportionate and unenforceable punishment, which undermines the effectiveness of setting rules.
Instead, when you first tell your child about a new rule, discuss the consequences of breaking that rule.
What will the punishment will be and how it will be carried out?
Consequences must go hand in hand with limits so that your child knows what the cost of breaking the rules will be. The punishments you set should be reasonable and related to the violation.
For example, if you catch your son and his friends smoking, you might “ground” him by restricting his social activities for two weeks.
Punishments should only involve penalties you discussed before the rule was broken.
Never issue empty threats
It’s understandable that you’ll be angry when house rules are broken, and sharing your feelings of anger, disappointment, or sadness can have a powerfully motivating effect on your child.
Since we’re all more inclined to say things we don’t mean when we’re upset, it’s sometimes best to give ourselves a time-out period to cool off before we say something we don’t mean.
Make the ground rules crystal clear to your child.
It’s imperative that you are consistent and follow through with a defined disciplinary action after each infraction, and that your child understands the reasons why.
Being on the Same Page When Disciplining your Child
Disciplining your child is never easy. You probably know from experience and mistakes how important it is to be consistent, firm and to always follow through with designated disciplinary consequences.
But when there are two parents involved, it’s crucial they are both on the same page and apply discipline consistently regardless of marital status.
Parents should agree on how to discipline their children.
To become reliable to children, both parents must be consistent in dealing with similar situations. In a situation where the parents are separated or divorced, disagreeing with each other over upbringing can create a confusing situation for children.
They should make a concerted effort to keep their child’s best interests at heart and sit down with their child and line out the rules and expectations and the consequences for violating those rules.
Both should agree that the intended discipline is fair, and apply it consistently in a firm yet fair manner in each home.
In addition, if there are disagreements regarding discipline or other parenting issues, they are best resolved when the child is not present. If the child senses discord, they may attempt to manipulate the situation to their advantage.
Practice What You Preach
When teaching good behavior, parents should “practice what they preach.”
Children learn values and beliefs more by examples adults set than by verbal instructions.
Screaming at a child to be quiet or paddling a child for hitting is hypocritical and ineffective.
Decide what is important and what parental response to use to teach your child. It would be more effective to calmly tell your child to be quiet or use “time-out” when a child is physically aggressive.
And remember what works now may not work later down the road.
Situations may dictate a different approach, and time and maturity may demand a child’s rule be modified or abolished altogether.
Sometimes your common sense will help you decide when bedtime rules should be modified or table manners relaxed.
Some rules will be the same, others will be modified or abolished, and new ones will be introduced.
But regardless of the situation, parents should always present a unified front and work together and not against each other in providing effective discipline for their child.