Discipline is about guiding your child so they can grow up and be a wonderful adult.
Think for a moment about what you what your child to be like when they grow up. What qualities would you like them to have?
Now, erase that picture. It is not that that picture in your mind doesn’t count; absolutely it does. You are the parent, you are the loving authority in your family. It is just that children bring with them their own unique gifts, unique qualities. They bring things you could never anticipate nor plan for. They have as much to teach you and probably more than you have to teach them. So, the impression of what you want to bring them will stay on the paper as it was erased, but something more important is being drawn over this…
That doesn’t mean that we throw up our hands at what our child brings to us, we don’t and cannot abdicate our responsibility in teaching and guiding, but it does mean that we keep our respect for the child alive and well throughout the process. It means we keep our sense of humor, and it means we keep our sense of love and warmth. It especially means, I think and in my personal style of parenting, that we also look for BALANCE for our children and try to introduce balance to them – in their personalities and temperaments, in their passions and interests. It also means we give them a solid foundation: they can choose to steer their canoe a different way when they are older, but for right now, we help them along the rocky shoals by giving them the basics of our own family culture, our own spirituality, our own boundaries.
If you are feeling lost lately with being positive with your children and guiding your children well, take a deep breath.
Remind yourself that this is the heart of parenting, and that keeping yourself calm and ho-hum is the first step toward being able to connect with your child in the moment. Guard what comes out of your mouth! You cannot take those words back!
A child’s actions do have consequence, all of it does have import, and it does carry responsibility. Make sure you are not hindering the possibility of your child learning how to be a responsible member of your family and of society by imposing inconsistent, unfair, unclear and emotionally-driven punishment as opposed to moments of consistent, fair, clear and calm direction. Ho-hum.
Make sure your expectations are realistic. Know you are going to have to say the same thing 500 times, and that you will have to be physically by their side to make sure what needs to happen actually happens. That is parenting.
Parenting is loving and connecting, but it also having boundaries and teaching your child practical things to make life worth living. I have found in observing my own children and many other children, yes, some behaviors children do grow “out of” but many things stick there until the parent takes charge and helps the child change the behavior. Do not be afraid of this, this is part of parenting as well.
Be confident, clear and calm. Be the authority and step up and be the parent. Love your child enough to do this for him or her.