Is it me or did disciplining your children become a topic parents have been taught to fear? I mean, when did saying “no” to your children become something parent’s shouldn’t do? The amount of red tape around disciplining children draws a fine line between what is “good” and “bad” parenting. Add a dose of heavy guilt in there and we now have a recipe for meltdowns, both for parents and children alike.
Parenting today continues to evolve through the reflections of the past. I feel like adults my age and older benefited from the firm discipline styles which were once accepted by society. Fast forward to today, and the mere notion of a simple word coupled with the fear of raising your voice is all too P.C. for my liking. I have never been one to tell anyone how to parent, but I am one to openly discuss my parenting style and set clear boundaries for my kids.
I am dumbfounded by the amount of people that tell me “you shouldn’t say NO to your kids.” What is so terrible about this word? What is so scary about setting boundaries for your children? We all have boundaries and as parents; it is our responsibility to teach our children what they are. Perhaps the fear lies in the feeling of guilt or the desire to avoid any tantrums or arguing, which make it all too easy for a parent to give in to unacceptable behavior.
So how do we, as parents, set boundaries without stifling our children’s needs to push and test their boundaries? Can we say “no” without saying the word? Well, yes, we can. I found that discussing alternatives to a question or redirecting behavior with positive words of affirmation help a great deal with my 8 year old. She is now at a point where she clearly understands my extensive adult vocabulary which makes it easier for me to talk with her. I will admit it is not the easiest thing to do when my immediate thought is to simply say “no.” But changing that mindset is a skill that involves a lot of work and self-discipline. These are the simple things I do when an instance arises:
- Take a deep breath before I react or respond.
- Think about the alternative choices.
- Redirect my words.
It’s not rocket science, but it does help! Clearly this doesn’t work for every occasion or for every child. But I found that it works for MY inner peace and has reduced my stress when it comes to arguing with someone much younger than me. I will never fully eliminate saying “no.” It is not a word I ever plan on taking out of my parenting vocabulary. Parenting is already a tough thing to do and disciplining is even harder. I just continue to remind myself to choose my words wisely, which is the same thing I expect from my kids. There are times I am too strict and there are times I am too lenient. Finding the balance takes patience, time, and practice. As our kids continue to grow, so does the evolution of our discipline. Good luck to all you amazing parents!