Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Part II
Groundation Still stinks.
So, how do we discipline our children with a fair balance of love and boundaries?
We must set up a reasonable, and clear, list of guidelines of what is expected of them. Then, when we must enforce the rules, we be consistent and apply  fair consequences they will learn from.
Followed by plenty of hugs and kisses.
After that, what can we do to  stop our children from misbehaving, making mistakes and getting into trouble again?  
Nothing.  Just repeat the above process. Eventually, they’ll get it.
I know that doesn’t give us much hope, but it’s the truth. As I’ve said before, kids are human and to ask them to never do anything wrong again is absurd and unreasonable.  They can’t be expected to live up to that type of promise of perfection.
I know because I’ve tried.
By the time I was a teenager I was so sick of my parents grounding me for every little thing. I’d already spent what seemed like eternity being grounded; a week for this, two weeks for that, a month for that. Half the time I wondered if I would see the light of day.
At the time, I just wished they could have cloned me into a ‘mini-mommydaddy’  so that I could be just like them. That way they couldn’t complain anymore. Finally, I’d be perfect, at least in their eyes, because I’d do everything like they wanted me to.
Ha! That was the joke! They weren’t perfect. No one is. They couldn’t live life without making another single mistake! But they expected me to.
At 8 years old, I used to get the belt for being one minute late coming home from a friend’s house. It never failed; I was always late and always got punished. But I never got the lesson.  Case in point, at 37, I’m just learning how to better manage my time so that I won’t be late to events.
Had I known it was normal to mess up now and again, I probably wouldn’t have felt so discouraged.
I know I’ve said that I appreciated some discipline (some being the keyword) but too much punishment was just awful. And as much as I promote smacking babies hands when they attempt to touch something dangerous and spanking a child’s bottom for an overly rude mouth, I don’t think that alone is enough.
So what do they need?
Kids need to learn the lessons.
What are the lessons?
Not to touch things that are dangerous, not to interrupt, back-talk, or lie. They need to learn to follow directions, use manners and treat others with respect. They need to do their homework, be a team player and clean up after themselves…the list goes on and on and on.
 We are raising babies, children, and adolescents, yes….But what are we raising them into?
We are raising them into adults.
So let’s prepare them to be adults.
Parenting is not black and white, as I have found.  Where I used to have a handle on my children’s behaviors when they were small, I have found that the rules have changed now that they’re growing and it’s not as easy anymore.
Kids change and so do behaviors. As parents, we must change too. We must educate ourselves on our children’s age groups, the things they may do in the future, and how to handle  such things so that when we come up against it, we are prepared.
But what is often overlooked is that children, even when they are punished, they need to feel like you still like them. They need to feel like they can make it better and will get a chance to fix their behavior. They need hope. And if you take away everything they own, take away every freedom, take away every single thing that they have to look forward to, including love and humor, they can end up depressed and learning nothing. There has to be a lesson, not just a punishment.
To discipline my children I use several different resources. I consult the web, read parenting magazines and borrow books at the library. I ask school teachers and counselors too, but I always come back to one thing; my gut.
And so what does my gut tell me time and time again?
Set them up for success and if that fails, make ‘em think.
                              ….to be continued…
Truly,
Amber

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