Children want boundaries and discipline!
You may think your kids hate your rules, but the opposite is true, suggests Marlon Abrahams.
Boundaries and discipline actually make parenting easier. This indisputable fact of was reinforced to me in no uncertain terms when my 6-year-old Maddison was laid off from school for a week with what appeared to be a bout of chicken pox. Aside from the spots Maddi showed no signs of actually being sick. She spent the entire week with me, since I work from home. This was indeed a trying time, having to balance work with the bubbly personality of an active 6-year-old. Let me tell you, trying to keep her gainfully occupied every second of the day is a huge challenge.

Don’t back down!

We got through the week okay and the first day back at school was challenging in terms of getting her to go. You have to be firm and unwavering in your decisions, and never back down once you’ve made a decision. Children sense strength and weakness and they act on it. Their intuition is far more acute than ours in that it’s not clouded by our issues and stresses.

My disciplinary style is to explain why something is going to happen, and to make it very clear when it is non-negotiable. And more often than not, just a subtle change in my tone of voice will get the message across. Children’s personalities are different, so you need to see what works with your kids.

So having survived the week out of school, she tried to play the sick card again last week. Her mom dropped her off at my house at about 6:30am, saying Maddi was sick and had been complaining of a sore tummy, a bit of a cough and a fever. Two minutes after mom had left, Maddi was the picture of health, jumping around and terrorizing the cat as usual. I checked her temperature and realized that she’d successfully conned her mother, again.

Being firm is tough but produces results

I immediately informed her to choose her clothes, run the bath and get ready for school. And this time my firm Daddy voice conveyed that I was not even going to discuss it. She started crying, and the next half-hour was punctuated with desperate sobs and requests to call mom. I held firm and got her to bath, dress and get herself into the car. Be warned, this is a heart-wrenching exercise, so remain firm while your child is clearly emotional and upset, but as the parent you have to trust your instincts and do what’s best for them.

Usually we chat during the drive to school. This time I was quiet and she could sense that I was not impressed. At school she cried again. I explained the situation to the teacher (out of Maddi’s earshot – it’s important not to embarrass your kids in-front of others). When I fetched her later that day, she was not only in a very good mood, but a veritable fountain of good health. The overall result of the last two weeks is that she now insists on spending more time with me. As a single parent Maddi’s mom and I share equal time with her. Now Maddi’s making requests to spend time with me on the days that she should be with her mom, she also insists on me taking her to and fetching her from school.

Boundaries and discipline are vital in their development and will stand them in good stead when they hit the scary teenage years, and even into adulthood. You have to be firm and trust your instincts, and know that they will respond to your firmness!

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

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