Don’t you wish that children were born with manuals?

In the initial months, when my daughter was born, I was worried about how to take care of her physiological needs… basically keep her alive! But as time went on, I was more concerned about how to teach her right from wrong and to apply principles that were important to us as a family. But with every step of the way, I realize that parenting is one REALLY tough journey.

Especially when that 3-year-old or 13-year-old absolutely refuses to do what you want her to do.

We explain till our face is blue why eating vegetables will help her little body.

We scold the child that plays online games while the teacher is having his class.

We nag the teenager that refuses to pick up his clothes from the floor and clean his room.

It triggers us, and it frustrates us.

I know how that feels like because I’ve experienced it before (even though my children are only 8 and 6). If you are like me, you’d feel cornered into a wall, frustrated that you didn’t know how to deal with the situation in front of you. In the past, I would turn into an angry, raging monster, yielding the cane and yelling threats at the kids.

It took one moment of realization to make me think that my strategy was totally not working because of this one simple reason… our kids have a mind of their own.

I relate to this statement taken from Dr Kevin Leman’s book, “Why your kids misbehave and what to do about it”, which states…Punishment says, “If you don’t do this right now, I’m going to make you pay, and pay big.” In contrast, discipline is a thoughtful plan of action intended not to inflict pain but to shape a child’s future with his long-term good in mind (as well as the rest of the planet’s).

The fine balance

Before we try to change the behaviour of our children, firstly, we need to realize, there is a fine balance between rules and relationship. Too much rules without relationship, and we turn into authoritarian, sergeant-like parents who bark orders and expect full compliance without the need to explain why. Too much relationship without rules, and we turn into jellyfish parents who lack boundaries and allow way too much freedom before the right time.

It almost feels as if there’s a tightrope we need to walk along, and if we tip too far to one side, we’ll fall over.

So how does this information help me parent and discipline my child?

Over the next 2 months, we will be discussing this topic here on Comma. But for today, when your child is displaying a behaviour that upsets you, pause and think:

  • My child has a free will and wants to grow into his/her own person. So how can I offer choices instead of barking orders?
  • My child craves for my attention. If she can’t get my attention through positive behaviour, she might display negative behaviour so that she gets the attention she desires. Have I made an effort to build a close relationship with my child, and yet, establish firm boundaries?

Yes, our kids did not come with a manual the moment there were born, but thankfully, there are principles that we can learn and implement to help them grow into the person we hope them to be.

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