Who's in Charge at Your House?

by Carol Chandler-Wood

During the many years of work with students, I have often observed parents being both afraid of disciplining their children and taking charge in their homes.  This month I am going to venture away from an educational topic and onto one that can affect your home environment, which will eventually affect your children’s academics.

Are you afraid you are going to make your children mad at you if you discipline them?  Are you worried you may cause them emotional harm?  Who is in charge in your house? If your answers are yes and your children are in charge at home, please continue reading.  Following are some principles to put into practice at home in order to take charge.

  1. Practice calm, conscious, confident parenting.
  2. Practice the self discipline necessary to remain emotionally balanced in response to your child’s behavior.
  3. Change things in small degrees because you can only improve your responses to your child’s behavior a little at a time.
  4. Take note of your child’s misbehavior without immediately reacting, unless an immediate real danger exists.
  5. Take a good look at your parenting anger and parenting fears because these emotional states indicate there is work you need to do on your own self.
  6. Learn how to be firm without being emotional.
  7. Communicate your child’s appropriate boundaries by consistently demonstrating respectful, responsible self discipline yourself, clearly communicating exactly the behavior you expect and you disallow, and follow through with consequences when patience and words do not work.
  8. Be observant and learn how to talk to your child so he will listen.
  9. Do not use harsh, angry criticism towards your child because this does not work.  It lowers your child’s expectation of himself, lowers his self-confidence, and it fuels his fears, rebellion and defensiveness, all resulting in an even worse behavior and attitude from him.
  10. Do not fight with your child.  Fighting with him does not work because when you engage in a frustrating power struggle with your child, you will lose your own power.
  11. Do not do too much for your child to protect him from life’s challenges.  Sometimes your child will learn more by dealing with events himself and you remaining uninvolved.
  12. Remember a child learns to behave in the ways that get them what they want.  If you give him what he wants when he has been bossy and demanding, you have taught him that these traits satisfy his desires and he will disrespect others.
  13. Remember that when a child’s bad behavior goes without consequences, it causes him to feel confused about what is expected of him and he may even doubt that he is truly cared about and interpret your leniency as apathy.
  14. Develop emotional strength by remaining patient and composed when our child expresses hurt and angry feelings.  You can not reach your child self control when you are losing your own.
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