Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Discipline Shows Love

It's hard to be tough on kids, but when you give them consequences, you are showing love.  It might take them a long time to know that and they might even hate your guts, but you have to do it.  If you tell them you are going to do something, you have to follow through.  If you need to take time to think of a realistic consequence, then tell them you need some time to think.  Don't spout off the first thing that comes to mind if you're likely to say something like, "You're grounded for the whole Summer!"
A friend of mine was impressed recently when I followed through. My daughter was supposed to play at her house for two days while I got some things done. I warned her that if she wouldn't walk out the door with me willingly, she wouldn't be coming back the next day. So I didn't bring her and my friend was still expecting us to show up. She said, "Wow, you really meant it!" She is getting so heavy and I have trouble with my back. It seems like the most logical consequence that I wouldn't be carrying her out the next day kicking and screaming. She is slowly getting better about leaving friends' houses and knows she will get a time out if I force her to leave.
My son just went through some pretty bad experiences at Scout Camp due to kids who have had very few boundaries, rules, or discipline.  With one child, the parents are in denial and not ready to hear that their son is misbehaving.  Another's father feels too guilty to give him consequences because of the trials their family has been through.  After one boy's parents were notified of his horrible behavior, he was out that day playing in the street with his friends, repeating the behavior they had been called about.  He learned that he can get away with anything and that the Scout leaders don't matter.
If you allow your child to have a cell phone, at least make them check it in with you at night.  Personally, I think kids shouldn't have phones with Internet.  I don't think they have developed the judgment skills to use them wisely.  Several of our Scouts brought their phones after the parents were notified that they weren't allowed to have them and needed to make sure they didn't make it into their backpacks.  At least three of them brought them anyway and used them to look at pornography.
We also can't afford to tell ourselves, "My child would never do that."  To let a child use an Internet device without supervision is opening them up to temptation and possibly some very serious trouble.
For the love of your child and the children affected by them, please discipline them.

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