One of the most challenging aspects of parenting is clear communication with your child. Clear communication with your child becomes most imperative when teaching your child the difference between good behavior, bad behavior, right and wrong. If the communication to your child isn’t clear, or the child perceives rules apply in one instance, but in others they do not, you’re likely to cause confusion. This inconsistency will also lead to frustration to both you and your child.
The best thing you can do as a parent is to set aside some time to sit down and have a talk with your child. The goal of this talk is to go over what are acceptable behaviors and the consequences for deviating from the discussed behaviors. During this discussion, it is best to make the child understand that at the time the rules are broken, there will be no tolerance for negotiation or undermining of your authority. It’s very important that if your child does break the discussed rules, you stand firm in disciplining the child for breaking the rules.
The most important rules which should be discussed with your child revolve around those which focus on your child’s safety, health, and well being. These rules should be given priority and should absolutely have no negotiation while being set, or enforced by you. After all, these rules, when not followed could cause serious harm or injury to your child, or worse.
While discussing the less serious rules with your children, you should be open to communication. You can actually ask your child what they think a proper punishment for breaking the less serious rules should be. You can actively negotiate what is considered a fair punishment to both you the parent and to your child. If your child breaks the rules and becomes upset at the punishment, you can gently remind them this is the punishment that you both negotiated.
Your child will then most likely not resist so much after they realize they did indeed help to create the punishment beforehand. You could even take it a step further, and draw up a contract with your child. You can write it using age appropriate language your child will understand. If you get some resistance, you can pull out the contract and show it to them. The contract will serve as a physical reminder of the bargain you struck for punishment together. .
If you have a younger child, you can keep a good behavior chart. For each day that goes by with no rule infractions, a favorite or special activity can be awarded and redeemed by your child. Use stickers for the days they had good behavior. By using a chart with stickers your child will have a visual connection to their behavior and their potential reward. It will serve as motivation for them to continue following the rules.
Your child needs to understand that you’re disciplining them for their own good, not because you enjoy disciplining them. After they’ve been disciplined, it’s best to discuss with them exactly why they were disciplined, they need to understand and learn from their mistake. Most children do fight rules. However, deep down, they want rules and structure. Without rules and consequences they can not grow up to be healthy, happy, mature, and wise decision makers.