As a teacher and parenting coach, I am often asked to share tips on how parents can control their one or two kids as effortlessly as many teachers manage a class of twenty-five or thirty. Although setting limits and boundaries is a necessary part of teaching and parenting, it isn’t always easy–especially if you have a particularly strong-willed or defiant child. However, whining and negative reactions can be significantly reduced if you remember and follow three simple guidelines:
Be Firm …
Being firm does not have to mean being overly strict or authoritarian, but rather setting clearly defined boundaries and standards for behaviour, and holding everyone to them (including yourself). So let me ask you, what limits do you already have in place for your kids? Are they specific or general?
Be Fair …
Fairness is another biggie! Kids rebel when they feel someone is being unfair. However, this concept is a little tricky in that fairness is often defined in the eyes of the beholder–pitting your version of “reality” against your son’s or daughter’s version.
Most kids believe “fairness” involves giving everyone the same thing, or treating everyone equally. However, a broader definition might describe fairness as giving people what they need. For example, if one of your kids is hurt or particularly sad, he/she may require extra time and attention. However, this needed attention may lead a sibling to declare, “That’s not fair!” The best way to overcome resentment due to a perceived lack of fairness is to try to explain your decision and have a general discussion around “fairness”.
Be Consistent …
The most problematic of the three, however, has to be consistency. What might consistency sound like? “I say what I mean, and mean what I say and no amount of whining, crying, tantrums, rudeness will get me to change my mind.”
Kids need to know you are a person of your word and that you will follow through if boundaries or limits are not respected. Will they still test you? Of course! But you will find in time it becomes less frequent and does not escalate as much or as quickly if you stick to your guns.
However be warned … if you have been inconsistent in the past, things will likely get worse before they get better. If your kids have learned that escalating their misbehaviour has rewarded them in the past, they may try to reach new and worst levels to try and sway you from your new commitment to be consistent. Don’t give in. Hold strong, and be sure to explain your new plan.
Setting limits and boundaries for children is a necessary part of parenting and although kids might disagree if you asked them, studies have shown that children want limits to be put in place–giving them a sense of security; something they can count on in their lives.
So the next time your kids’ whining or misbehaviour is getting you down, just remember this classroom secret … and be sure to be firm, fair and consistent.
About the author
Ready to give your child a head start on success? Check out Rob’s coaching programs, workshops, and newsletter for parents and youth. Visit www.YouthCoachCanada.com or call 905.515.9822.
An award-winning educator and Parenting & Youth Coach, Rob Stringer BA, BEd, CPC has spent almost two decades helping kids, teens, and adults meet with success, and live lives they LOVE! Although based outside of Toronto, Rob’s coaching practice is global with teen and adult clients around the world.