Anger management parenting - What are some practical ways I can balance love and discipline?
Parenting is a huge responsibility. It is often fraught with anxiety. Its emotional nature, often beginning with raw fear, is what makes anger management in parenting is so difficult. How in the world are we supposed to turn some tiny, squalling, demanding stranger into a wise, productive, capable adult? They don't even come with instructions!
No area of parenting proves more puzzling, provocative, and guilt-laden then discipline. If a child's parents are too permissive, the child runs all over them and everyone else in his path. If the parents are too strict, they can break their child's spirit, or cause a backlash of resentful rebellion. The key is finding a healthy balance for each child individually.
The key to this balance is to understand that love and discipline are inextricably related to each other. As parents, we discipline our children out of love. We are like a gardener cultivating her blue ribbon roses. Pruning and deadheading roses isn't fun, but it is necessary to coax the plant to its maximum potential. Here are a few tips from other successful "gardeners":
Start with the end in mind. What does a well-adjusted adult look like, and how do they get there? Virtue is not a default setting in our children. We have to look for ways to encourage honesty, courtesy, kindness, and integrity, all the while discouraging the vices. It is an involved, intimate process, and there are no shortcuts. It is a commitment on the part of the parents to see it through to the end.
Set definite ground rules, and be consistent in their enforcement. It is a parent's job to draw the proverbial line in the sand and tell their children, "On this side of the line is obedience. On this side is disobedience. Do not cross the line." Write the rules down, if you must, and make certain that your child understands what constitutes disobedience. With younger children, rehearse the rules. Once you know that your children understand the house rules, as well as the consequences for breaking them, it is vital that parents be prepared to carry out the consequences - EVERY TIME.
One mom says, "Our children understand that lying will not be tolerated. If they do something wrong, then lie to us about it, there is double the punishment. It only took a couple of times to test our resolve on that. Now they understand the high premium we place on honesty and trustworthiness."
Let the punishment fit the crime. . .But only if it is a crime. There are more utensils in a parent's disciplinary toolbox than spankings, groundings, and timeouts. Punishment is a teaching tool. If you forget that fact, you may miss out on teachable moments and opportunities for growth.
A woman relates this story, "When I was growing up, my sister and I decided to "egg" the rental property next door to our house. When our father saw the mess and deduced that we were the culprits, he marched us over to the property owner's house to confess and apologize in person. Then we spent a raw, blustery winter afternoon scrubbing the dried egg off the clapboard siding. I learned respect for the property of others and I have never forgotten that lesson."
Many exasperated parents have wondered if their son or daughter suffers from a criminal lack of common sense. Frequently, children do things so dangerous, destructive, or hare-brained that at first blush, it looks like a punitive offense. It is important to nurture kids in an environment of grace, and avoid punishing them for simply being children. There is a big difference between childish irresponsibility and deliberate disobedience. Part of a parent's job is to tell the difference between the two.
When you do have to punish, make sure to demonstrate your love, and explain the punishment. In a child's mind, it isn't a great leap for him or her to mistake a parent's anger, frustration, and disappointment for loss of love. He should know that the punishment is for guidance, correction, and ultimately his own benefit, not just to make him unhappy. Review the reason for the punishment, and hug and kiss your child afterward. If your approval is a sweet thing your child treasures, he will seek it often.
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