There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. And there’s no one set way to be a good one. At PFSA, we believe that parents love their children and want to be the best parent they can be. Many times, child abuse happens when parents are overwhelmed, stressed out, or have problems of their own that make it hard for them to be good parents. We believe that almost every parent can benefit from gaining a better understanding of themselves, their family dynamics, and how they handle their emotions when it comes to parenting and disciplining children.
Discipline Means Teaching
Most parents say that managing their child’s behavior is the toughest part of parenting. This is especially true when children have special needs that make them difficult to parent or when parents don’t know what to expect from children. Parents can become overwhelmed with their own problems or when there are special challenges in the family.
Discipline is not the same thing as punishment. There’s a lot more to discipline than correcting a child when he misbehaves. Discipline means “teaching.” When you discipline your child, you correct him/her with love. You help the child feel secure and loved by providing structure and guidelines for getting along in the world. You guide your child as he/she gets older and you teach him/her how to behave at home, school and in public places.
Tips on Discipline
Correcting misbehavior is sometimes easier if you understand what is causing it. With young children, being tired, sick, hungry, angry or bored can lead to misbehavior. Older kids might misbehave for these reasons and also as a way to test your limits. Kids of all ages sometimes don’t understand what is expected and how to behave (especially if you are not consistent with the rules).
Sometimes children misbehave to get attention Don’t forget to pay attention to your children when they are being good. If they know they can count on your attention for good behavior, they will be less likely to misbehave.
Your children will not always like your rules Be clear in letting your child know what you expect and then be consistent in following through on those expectations, but don’t expect your child to agree. All children test limits, but they are less likely to frustrate you if you set clear rules and enforce them.
Be a good example for your child Children learn a lot from watching their parents, so make sure that they see you behave in a way that shows how you want them to behave.
Pick your battles. You can’t correct everything at once, so focus on the most important things first. Keep your child’s age and personality in mind when you set priorities and remember to acknowledge every step in the right direction, no matter how small.
Children have feelings just like adults Avoid shaming, name-calling and insults. As the old saying goes, “Praise in public, punish in private” to avoid additional shame to the child.
Prevent rather than correct It’s easier to prevent behavior problems than to correct them later on. Pay attention to the times your child misbehaves and look for opportunities to lessen the chances of him acting out.
Parents Under Stress
Every parent gets stressed out. Here are some tips to keep in mind when parenting becomes stressful:
- Parenting is a tough job. Give yourself credit for taking on an unpaid 24/7 job.
- Parenting is the most important job you will ever have. Remind yourself that through good parenting you have an opportunity to make a real difference in the world.
- Sometimes kids are just being kids. Learn what to expect from your child at each stage of development. Sometimes it helps to know that 2-year-olds have temper tantrums and teenagers challenge the authority of their parents. There are many good books to help you, and a parent support group gives you lots of experts to consult – other parents!
- Structure and predictability are important for children. Provide structure and predictability for your child from infancy through the teen years. If a child knows what to expect, behavior problems are less likely to occur.
- No parent is perfect. Know what things upset you and stay attuned to your own stress level. Stress in your life will affect your ability to handle child behavior problems. Give yourself a time-out if you think you are about to lose control with your children.
- Learn about non-physical ways to discipline, so that you have many options prepared before you get in a stressful situation with your kids. Start by clicking here for ideas. <link to document called “alternatives”>
- Humor relieves stress. Children respond well to humor and humor can soften the seriousness of many situations.
- No man or woman is an island. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out for help. Every parent feels overwhelmed at least some of the time. It shows strength to ask for help.