Guilt-free Discipline

While you may not relish playing the role of enforcer with your child, he'll benefit from consistent rules. Read our pointers on how to stay firm.
Alexandra Grablewski

Discipline confers a whole new role on Mom and Dad: "the heavy." It's one most of us aren't comfortable with; we prefer the warm, fuzzy picture of ourselves snuggling with our children, reading storybooks, providing kisses for boo-boos and doling out unconditional love. Day-to-day life with a toddler can be far different from this rosy vision, however. And, experts tell us, kids need firm, consistent limits for their emotional well-being. But some parents shy away from disciplining their kids. If you find yourself avoiding this less-than-pleasant parental task, examine the reasons. Are you feeling guilty because you're not spending as much time with your child as you'd like? Do you feel inadequate or unsure of yourself as a parent? Are you trying to compensate for some physical or emotional abuse you underwent as a child? Or might there be marital tensions that make you, unwittingly perhaps, anxious to shift the role of "heavy" to your spouse?

Remember that reasonable, consistent discipline on a day-to-day basis -- while more challenging at times than nurturing that adorable little person -- may be just as important to your child's well-being. Not providing discipline, in the form of a stern no or time-out as problems arise, may cause your child's misbehavior to escalate -- and the frustration could lead to a far greater parental explosion.

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