I’ve been finding myself wondering lately if I am too hard on my kids or if I am expecting too much of them. It seems like my five-year-old is constantly mad at me for something or other and my eleven-year-old is rarely seen out of his room unless he has his face is immersed in his tablet or PS4.
I feel like I am always the nagging mom who never lets her kids do anything fun.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are days where I let them have chocolate before dinner or leave their dishes on the table instead of making them put them in the sink. There are days where all we do is sit around and watch TV.
These are the days were being the big bad disciplinarian in my house truly get to me. The days when I just can’t handle being told I’m the worst mom in the world, or the look I get when I say the dreaded “no” word. The days where I feel like my heart will break if I have to enforce one more rule.
As a mother, I know that it is my duty to my kids to prepare them, to teach them, and to lead by example. Some days it’s harder than others.
I know I know, this is something many parents feel. I am not alone in these feelings. Whether it is once in a blue moon or multiple times a day, it’s something that every parent has to manage.
Children seem to love to make you feel guilty. Everything from the big sad puppy eyes and pouty lip to telling you they hate you or slamming doors. It all a big ploy to help, they think, get what they want.
Having said that, I have learned that there are many things you can do to help alleviate the guilt, and also many things you might be doing that add to it without you even knowing. Disciplining your child is something that is unique to your family. Sure there may be some basic guidelines for what works and what doesn’t, but ultimately it’s up to you to find what works best.
Leading by example is one such thing that seems so easy to do. If you don’t want your kid to do something don’t let them see you do it, sounds so easy, but is sometimes hard to practice. It’s so tempting to fall back on the “because I’m an adult” reason. Ultimately, I’ve learned, it is unfair for you to expect your child to refrain from doing something when you can’t show the same restraint.
Another thing, which is remarkably so for me with my youngest, is that we wait too long to enforce the consequence for the unacceptable behavior. They need to be immediate or close to it for it to work. It is hard for a young mind to focus on something that is far away when the situation is happening now. Taking away TV time that doesn’t occur until the end of the night, or grounding them the next day, is hard for a little one to see when they don’t want to get ready for school first thing in the morning.
I also found I need to remember that my husband and I are a team. We have to present a united front, provide the same rules as well as the same consequences for not following them. I have to remind myself regularly not to talk down to him, even though he is letting her watch TV when her lunch pail is still sitting on the floor in the kitchen, and that this sort of thing needs to be dealt with when the kids aren’t around. It is something that needs to be addressed but not in harsh or nasty jabs at each other when you’re talking to your child.
Another big one I have learned is not relying on the bribe. It’s so tempting to offer up an extra episode of cartoons to get help clearing off the table. Or promising a new stuffy if they behave at grandmas. This sort of system is okay, in my opinion, once in awhile but not on a regular basis. Soon your child will start feeling entitled to these things and will no longer do them on their own and instead require a bribe each and every time, which in the end makes more work for you as a parent.
The last one I am quite guilty of, and so is my husband, is telling a big fat lie. For example, when we tell our daughter that all her hair will fall out if she doesn’t wash it, or that she might pull her brain right out of her head if she doesn’t stop picking her nose, we are point blank lying to her. Fibbing accomplishes nothing but scaring her, and that only serves to make the situation worse.
All of these things serve to help ease the guilt I feel when I discipline my children. There is, however, one other thing that I feel carries more weight than all of these things combined.
And that, my friend, is when I see my children do something that reminds me that they are growing into amazing young people. When my oldest sets the table without being asked or holds the door for a complete stranger when were entering a store. Or when my youngest remembers to use her manners when we are out at a restaurant or when she decides to donate her old toys and clothes because she knows someone out there will enjoy it now that she no longer needs them.
There are so many small things that happen in a day at my house that remind me that I am in fact doing a good job. It may not feel like it most days, but I am providing what they need, even if that is not always what they want.
By making a few small changes in our everyday lives and in the way I handle and view situations I know I can make a huge difference in the way disciplining my children will make me feel. I also know it is not something I will ever enjoy but must remind myself that it is necessary. I am doing the right thing for them but setting healthy, consistent rules and boundaries.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your undoubtedly busy day to read this!
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