In a single-parent household one likes to think that they are 100% in control of the household and the children – discipline included. Truth is, the 4-year-old that tends to run the house more than I'd like to admit. She has spent near all 4 years of her life going between our home and her dad's. Two houses with two family dynamics, two very different parenting styles, two sets of rules, and two sets of consequences. Then I have the ‘tween'. Too young for all of her hormone and body changes to process rationally but old enough to know better than blame all of her attitude and defiance on puberty. Mom is still cool and boys are still gross. Pair the environmental pressures around her that are already challenging enough on their own, with experiencing a storm of new feelings and emotions and we have a perfect recipe for power struggles and lashing out verbally, even turning her frustration toward me against her younger sister.
Sounds like a disaster, right? Every nagging correction directed toward the kid's undesired behavior usually just sums up to being a ‘nagging mom'. But when we pick our battles, so to speak, as carefully as we do, it's generally because we feel like if we don't address it in the moment it will continue or even escalate. Parents have the best of intentions to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our kids to learn and explore. If we want the valuable life lessons to resonate deeper that being a ‘nagging mom', perhaps we ought to apply that concept to how we discipline them.
There is hope for bringing a healthy balance of the parent-child relationship back that will not only be effective, but do so in a way that we all feel respected, valued, and even empowered! It's about getting the balance right. And there is a great book that will give you the tools and encouragement to apply Dr. Becky Bailey's ‘7 Basic Skills of Discipline' with confidence and positive results.
Maintaining Composure while we address undesired behavior will demonstrate how to manage anger in a healthy way. Providing Encouragement while we discuss our concerns will instill compassion. Being Assertive is a great approach when we want to teach them boundaries, not just ours, but also how to go about developing their own. Giving them Choices is so empowering and builds trust. If we express genuine Empathy we are giving our children a way to understand that in these moments, we aren't just being mean, but care about them, which is also why verbalizing Positive Intent is so important. They need to know that why it might seem like we ‘just wouldn't understand', we actually do, or at least want to do whatever we can to keep them happy and healthy. After we address all of these other important elements, we can determine a more appropriate, and more effective Consequence.
Applying this method takes the negative focus on getting into or being in trouble and miraculously morphs the ‘consequence' into a much richer and more valuable learning experience – for parent and child. This is when the balance is right.