Being a strict disciplinarian is very tough. Most parents these days are becoming increasingly liberal with their children, because they want to go with the flow and be the ‘coolest’ parents who want their kids to instill independence and self-reliance. Unfortunately for my child, I am not the “My mommy is the coolest” types! Neither are my parents nor are my siblings. Perhaps, it runs in our blood & genes! We can’t just “let it go! I choose to be a tough mom. Authoritative not Authoritarian.
We like to be worried, we like to micro-manage & we like to be “in-control” of things! Even when our kids are gone to school, the wandering & worried mind is hoping to see an empty tiffin box because (hoping that it is not entirely shared with friends), if they’re sleeping & playing enough, if they have a good reputation at school, if they have completed all the assignments & home-work and a million other things only a mom can think of.
Being on-top of things all the time obviously affects the flow of interaction with your children. Love for perfection & discipline somehow translates into determination & discipline, diligence and drill. Have you ever thought what it is that your kids will learn from you about the idea of love and caring bound by authoritative rules? Are they going to see the little things their parents do for each other & their children? How are they going to turn out as mature adults? Children are keen observers. You, have to be great examples to the young and impressionable minds.
In most families, one parent is the easy-going, understanding, so-called ‘fun parent’, generally the father (atleast in my case). The other is a mother who is generally responsible or takes the herculean responsibility of teaching, feeding, ferrying to the extra classes after school & everything in-between is the uncompromising one. Mothers have to ensure you do not leave for school without milk & breakfast, you complete your homework before play, screen time does not exceed 1.5 hours (if she is liberal), no sleep overs for studies, curb binge-eating of chocolate, chips & coke, and a score of other things that would delight you everyday. But, life is tough! That is how moms choose to be! And that’s how I choose to be!
When I take a trip down the memory lane, I remember how I was chided in 3rd standard when my rank slipped from 2nd to 4th in class. To be castigated for scoring below my potential is still vivid in my mind. I had always been taught to do your best & take only the positive from people & environment; just like a swan who drinks the milk & leaves the water behind. We all make mistakes. And so do our parents. My mother makes mistakes too; With a difference that she readily admitted to them only for us to realize that it is normal to do mistakes but more important & valuable, to realize them & take appropriate measures to fix it or overcome it. Children discern that you made mistakes too & that you can’t always be perfect.
Today as a parent of a toddler, I perceive that while my patience & temper is short & I’m constantly working to fix it, I am quick to admitting because children are ridiculously keen-observers and they can easily spot where you go wrong. When we enforce rules so that children grow up to be respectful, polite with a good value system, we should ensure that we do not break the rules. There should be consistency. You cannot let them off the hook once & punish them for the same the second time. This way, it may seem that rules are flexible & negotiable according to the situation.
Hence it is important that there is “Consistency In Rules”: While, one parent is trying hard to set a routine & get things in place, it is important that your partner agrees with you. Both need to be in tandem. If one is lenient and the other is a not, children are smart to find loopholes & get their way out! You do not want to be the cursed demon, while your partner is the savior angel, do you?
“Hold Your Temper Reigns”: Be calm, be stern, but do not scream. This demonstrates that you are in control. Sometimes, stepping back means taking 5 steps forward. Let your child face the consequences of their actions. Let him fail in a class-test if he is unwilling to study, get hurt if he is mischievous or fall sick if he has had 2 scoops of ice-cream! This will reinforce that rules are in place for a reason – because you love them, because it will benefit them & because it will make them a better person.
“Appreciate Good Behavior”: Using positive reinforcement helps children learn that good manners are always acknowledged & that’s the way to be. Actions become Habits. Habits become Nature. Nature becomes Character. The whole point of setting rules is to discipline your children & bring out the best in them!
Having said all of this, one has to admit that discipline dilemmas plague all parents young & old. But are you going over-board? These are signs that you are a very strict parent –
- Setting too many rules. Being too rigid.
- Taking all the calls big and small – Deciding which sport to take up or which extra-classes to attend. Imagine what had happened if Sachin’s father insisted he played football?
- All work no play – Children need their downtime to synthesize what they have learnt. Let the child play and apply his physical, mental & loco-motor skills.
You can win the battle but lose the war! You can get your child to listen to you & do things the way you want them to, but, eventually by being very rigid, you are losing a friend in them They’ll stop sharing important things that matter to them. Because they feel you are not approachable & you would enforce your views on them. So, it is important to strike a good balance. It is a hard thing for most parents but it’s best if you do not lose your temperament. Dealing with ever-rising demads of fancy gaming consoles influenced by peer-pressure & guarding them from the bad webs in the cyber space makes you feel as though pregnancy & early childhood compared to your child’s teens was just a jolly ride. Well, it certainly is. Some of us might have had a tough time dealing with food tantrums, but in most cases, it’s the best phase of our life! 🙂