By Nicole Pierotti
How do parents decide what behaviour they will tolerate from their child and what they will not? This is quite a tricky question and perhaps a different way to tackle this is to ask yourself what would others deem acceptable and not acceptable? The answer to this will certainly guide you to what you should let go and what behaviours you should not.
Today there seems to be quite a lot of literature written by so called ‘experts’ on how to parent your child and what is regarded as ‘mean or harsh’ when it comes to parenting. As a result quite a lot of parents I see feel guilted by such statements as ‘ you should be your childs friend’ or ‘it is your job as a parent to keep your child happy all the time’ , ‘do not let your child cry as this is means’, ‘ you will damage their emotional development if you use discipline’.
This view is unrealistic – it is your job undoubtly to be your child’s ‘parent’ not their best friend (that is someone else’s role) and with this comes the unenviable job of sometimes drawing the line in the sand and saying enough is enough – I will not put up with that and it is not acceptable.
Parents feel quite liberated and less confused when it is pointed out to them that you, as a parent decide which behaviours are acceptable and what has crossed that invisible line. When you feel that a behaviour is unacceptable, for eg. Whining, hitting you, demanding, tone of voice and you fail to respond / you ignore or choose to discipline as a result, then you are giving your child the clear message that ‘this behaviour is not acceptable’ and others will not tolerate this. Be aware that how children act at home is exactly how they act elsewhere.
Just as when you choose to respond, talk to them when they are asking in the preferred tone, way, and mnner then you are giving the clear message ‘okay, I will respond and talk to you in this manner, this is how we can talk to each other’ and others will approve of this behaviour.
Be clear, it is your role as a parent to teach your child what is socially acceptable and what is not. Do not let guilt and others comments define how you as a parent respond to your childs behaviour. As the end aim as a parent is really to teach your child how to be happy and function in the world. The world we have and society will not cut them the slack that parents do because they don’t want to upset them. As a parent you need to have the right balance between love, teaching, compromise and boundaries and this does involve saying to your child ‘sorry but that behaviour is unacceptable' and show them why and a better way to choose to act. This is parenting.
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