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Parenting: Is It Really That Difficult?

Are you scared of becoming a parent?

 

Parents sometimes make parenting more difficult than it has to be. Some people are more patient than others, and even the most patient parent may feel overwhelmed at times. But there are a few basic parenting principles that can make parenting easier for both parents and children.

Raising children can be a very eye-opening and rewarding experience. However, it does not have to be extremely stressful. All children will try and push beyond the parental boundaries at one point in their development. It is natural and expected as they grow and develop their independence.

Parents sometimes put off disciplining toddlers and preschoolers. They say things like, “She’s too young. I’ll start disciplining her when she gets older.” The problem with that type of logic is that if a child is allowed to behave however she wants for the first five or six years of her life, discipline at a later age is going to be more difficult. The unacceptable behavior may very well become a habit that is now part of her personality. 

Another mistake that parents make is waiting to discipline their first child until they have a second child. Once a new baby comes along, they find that they have less time, energy and patience to deal with unacceptable behavior in the older child. It will be very confusing and disheartening for the older child when he suddenly gets disciplined for behavior that previously had no repercussions.

It is best to start early with discipline. As long as you discipline your young child in a positive manner, it will not harm then psychologically or otherwise. Telling a young child “No” in a positive but firm tone can be effective. Using a time-out technique can also be an effective form of discipline for young children. In order for discipline to be effective, a child needs to understand why he is being punished. Young children do not know what the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Parents must teach them. Parents also have to set boundaries, primarily for a child’s safety.

Once parents have determined what behavior will be accepted and what will not, they have to decide on what disciplinary measure will be applied when a rule is broken. Discipline needs to be appropriate for the child’s age, as well as his level of understanding and maturity. For instance, you can’t expect a toddler to sit in a time-out chair for more than a couple of minutes. Discipline will change as the child grows older.

Parents must be consistent. If discipline is inconsistent it will also be ineffective. Parents can’t discipline their child one time for unacceptable behavior and ignore it the next time.  Parents also sometimes make idle threats. They will tell their child they are grounded and can’t go to a party or other activity, then later let the child attend. They may tell their child they can’t play video games for the weekend, and then let the child play anyway. They threaten their child with disciplinary action, but don’t follow through. The child eventually learns that his parents aren't going to take any action regardless of his behavior.

Parents have to be consistent also because some parents discipline according to their own moods. A parent that is having a good day may choose to ignore slight transgressions. However, that same parent may get angry and yell when she is having a bad day. She may choose to discipline her child for his behavior simply because she is tired, frustrated or overworked. A child should never be disciplined according to mom or dad’s emotional state in the moment. A parent that is in a bad mood due to other factors should take the time to calm down, and deal with whatever is bothering her before disciplining the child.

Children that have a good relationship with their parents are also more likely to behave and abide by the rules. Each set of parents may have a different concept of a good relationship, but it basically includes being patient, understanding, attentive and setting a good example. Children should feel comfortable talking to their parents about their feelings and emotions. 

Parents should also listen to the child attentively. Life can be hectic and parents can be overwhelmed with work and other obligations, but it’s important to make time for your child. Set aside time to do something fun with your child. Praise your child when he does good and recognize his efforts. Let him know that you will always be there for him. Set a good example. Children learn from their parents and look to them for guidance. If you want your child to behave in a certain way, you should behave that way also. 

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