Discipline and setting rules for children can be challenging. Is the word “no” part of your vocabulary? Do you have trouble enforcing the rules with your kids? Are you frustrated because your little angel is starting to act more like your little devil? Children need boundaries. Here is what you need to know about setting boundaries and enforcing rules in a fair but responsive way.
A Guide To Setting Rules For Children
If you find boundaries hard, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. These are issues I face on a weekly basis. At one time or another, all parents struggle with attitude problems from their little ones. It is common to occasionally have trouble getting children to mind and behave. Discipline is tough – setting and enforcing limits, getting our children to talk to us (and others) with respect, and getting them to do what they’re told to do. Here is how to discipline kids.
How To Set Clear Boundaries For Kids
If you are a single parent, this is can be an especially tough topic. At the end of the day -when it’s been a struggle to get work done, get the kids to school, get them fed, pick them up, get to soccer practice, AND get all your personal needs in order – you are simply exhausted. You don’t have “back-up” and trying to enforce rules and better behavior is the last thing on your mind. It is really hard not to just throw in the towel and fall back on the tried and true punishment of “go to your room!” But there are ways to make things easier and keeping daily habits regular and clear boundaries will help immensely. Try these tips for setting rules for your children.
Be The Boss
Your child needs to know who is in charge and needs to respect that person (you). Establish overall ground rules and stick with them. If you cave in, your child will ultimately not take your rules (or you) seriously.
Not only on a day-to-day basis but also with the way you and your former spouse set boundaries. Try to work with your ex to come up with a plan that’s consistent between homes and agree to back each other up on how you’ll enforce limits.
Don’t set goals or rules that are too high or too tough. If you do, your child may feel that they are not meeting your expectations. This could ultimately lead to resentment, low self esteem, and even more behavioral issues.
Don’t over react to problems or situations. Some issue, like those that involve health, safety, and respect, are non-negotiable. But many others don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get upset because your son wants to wear two different socks to school because he thinks it’s funny. Does it really matter if your daughter decides that her favorite song needs to be repeated over, and over, and over again?
Don’t give options when it comes to punishment. Be firm and fair. “Young man, either turn off the TV within 10 seconds or lose TV privileges for 10 hours”
(Let Kids) Be Independent
Many times single parents (I am very guilty of this one) do too much for their children to make up for the fact that the kids don’t have two full time parents. Don’t go on that guilt trip. Give them room to make mistakes and find their own way. They need a chance to develop responsibility, intuition, determination, and independent ideas. But remember, you also need to know when to step and and enforce the boundaries.
Think about why your child is acting a certain way. If your child is like my son, they probably misbehave because they A) want attention, B) want control, C) want to get back at you for something you did, or D) they’re frustrated about something. Trying to fix a problem when you don’t even know what that problem is is of course, impossible. The easiest way to deal with something is the simplest – just talk. Ask what is bothering them. They may not always have the words to express themselves correctly. However, if you’re listening and you’re in tune with your child, then you can probably figure it out. Then decide how much, if any discipline, is needed.
Be Patient and Understanding
Remember that you were a kid once and everything that your child is now doing, you probably did years ago as well. Take a deep breath and try to see the situation from their perspective. When you are seven years old, everything is a dramatic crisis. Us parents definitely don’t need to add to that drama.
When all else fails, I have a phrase that I use when I am at a loss and trying to understand my son’s bad behavior. “Be firm, be forgiving, be a friend”. It reminds me that I am still the one in charge and the one setting the rules. However, I am also the one who my son turns to for guidance, understanding, leadership, and answers to all the questions of the world.
I hope these suggestions for setting rules for children are useful to you and your child. Feel free to share your experiences and tricks for setting the rules with your children in the comments below!
Rob Youngblood is an Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Men’s Life and Style Expert, and the Guy Behind “The Guy Guyde”. You can follow him on Twitter @robyoungblood.