Let’s be honest, we all wish we were given a parenting handbook or manual how to raise and discipline our kids when they were born that solved all the problems but that clearly didn’t happen. Most days, I just wing it with a prayer and hope that I am still the Word’s Okayest Mom. One thing I have learned is that discipline is critical to their success and my mental health. Without it, there is pure chaos. I can do controlled chaos all day long but when my crew is out of control, nothing works.
As parents we have to figure out ways to communicate, discipline, and love our children all at once and this is not a one size fits all scenario. Each strategy we use can work differently for every child. Just when you think you have a parenting win with one child, another child throws you that good ole curve ball.
It’s also easy for us to tell our kids how it is and end with, “Because I said so” but we also need to be mindful that our children have feelings, stress, sadness and confusion that they deal with. Often their inability to communicate their feelings and needs leads to behavior problems. It’s important that we find the source of the behavior to prevent it from happening again just as it is important that we hold our children accountable for their choices. Here are a few of my top parenting strategies (in no particular order).
Allow your Kids Choose
Life is all about choices. When my kids are struggling, I try and give them choices. This doesn’t mean that every time they do not want to do something, they don’t have to. That is not how the world works. But, if I can give them a choice, I do. Raising two boys with ODD teaches you to pick your battles and not enlist in power struggles with everything. I also teach my kids that every choice has a consequence. If they choose a positive choice, they get a positive consequence. If they choose a negative choice, they get a negative consequence. It’s always been important to me to not tell my kids that they are bad. They make poor choices, but that one choice doesn’t define them.
Maintain A Positive Environment
This is my motto when dealing with adults too. I’m more of a kill them with kindness kind of girl. I also believe in words of affirmation. Every day when my kids get home, I ask them how their day was. I encourage them with their strengths and try to find the strength in their weaknesses (because no one is perfect). I am not a fan of bribery but I’m not going to lie, there have been times that I have offered up a few minutes of TV or staying up past their bedtime if they would do a few extra chores or for the love of all things, stop arguing. When it comes to creating a positive environment, that really starts with me and the attitude I bring every day. If I am cranky, my kids will be cranky. It’s a nasty domino effect so sometimes I have to put myself in time out, find Jesus, and put on my dang happy pants to keep the peace (for the love of all things holy).
Create A Schedule And Stick To It
Kids thrive on structure. They need it. I’m sure there are statistics out there but I’m too tired to research that. Ha. Seriously though, create a schedule and stick to it. Hours of sleeping, when you do certain activities, eating, bath time, etc. it needs to be consistent. When you keep a schedule, it actually relieves a child’s anxiety because they know what to expect and what comes next. There are very few things that they actually control in their life and a schedule is important for their peace of mind.
Set The Rules And Be Firm With Them
I’ve never been an “I’m going to count to three” mom. To me, this is teaching my child that they have until I count to three and then I mean business. No mam. That is not how I role. Holding children accountable has become a serious problem in many households today. (This opinion is based on my experience as a teacher.) Children should not be running the house. There should be rules and they need to be followed. I know, our kids are precious and adorable and we puffy heart love them more than anything but the world will not cater to them so we have to teach them accountability before we launch them into a situation to fail. Be clear with your expectations. I always ask my children to repeat back to me what I have said and what that means to them. I think that is important because sometimes their perception is not accurate. When they break a rule, I hold them accountable but also have some grace. The consequence may be minor the first time but after that, the consequences become more serious. The thing is, children need to be able to trust our word. If you tell them no dessert tonight and they bat their precious little eyes at you and you give them ice cream, they aren’t learning anything and they certainly aren’t learning to respect you (said with love).
Parenting is not easy. I repeat, parenting IS NOT EASY. When you are a proactive parent, you are exhausted. It is not for the weak and you can forget trying to take the lazy way out 99% of the time. However you are surviving, hang in there. You are doing great! Our kids need our love, support and discipline. We are not raising children, we are raising adults. Who do you want your child to be one day? Teach them to conquer the world so the world doesn’t conquer them.
I promise, even the World’s Okayest Mom can raise great kids!