Parenting comes with its unique set of challenges, with children often fighting you every step of the way. When frustrated, it is of great benefit to stick to a few basic guidelines.
- Do rather than Do Not: Tell your kids what you want them to do rather than what you want them to avoid. For example, “Do put away your toys” rather than “Don’t leave your toys on the ground.”
- Privileges as reinforcement: Instruct children to complete chores, homework, etc. before playing with friends or using electronics. Your children become in charge of how long it takes them to complete tasks. The quicker they complete their responsibilities, the more time they have for fun.
- Consistency is key: It is essential to stay consistent with everything you do. Children pick up quickly on inconsistencies and will remind you of that one time things were different. It becomes near impossible to discipline and teach children without consistency. If circumstances make it difficult to maintain consistency, you must provide children with an explanation as to why things are different.
- Follow through: Follow-through is just as important as consistency. If you tell your child you are going to do something (positive or negative) you must follow through. Lack of follow-through leads to frustration, defiance and unhappiness. If you find it difficult to follow through, change the reward or consequence to make follow-through easier.
- Structure: Ensure children follow regular routines each day, including getting ready for school, homework and bedtime. Children thrive on structure and function much better when they know what to expect.
- Model, model, model: Children will do what they see. If you do not want your children to follow your actions, change your behaviors. The old adage “do what I say not what I do” is not effective when it comes to children and will not lead to positive results.
Source: Allison Kranich, MS, LCPC, CAADC