To Be A Parent

To be a parent is the most difficult job in the world and it’s the one job that no one does any training for. New parents get tons of advice from family, friends and experts in the media. All this advice is sometimes contradictive and it’s very confusing. Sometimes, you just have to follow your own instinct. After all, no one knows the child like his or her own parents. If a strong bond is forged between parent and child in the early years, the family will survive the difficult teenage years, which will surely come. Parents have different parenting styles when it comes to the thorny issue of discipline. Debates rage on which methods are the best.

One of the constant arguments is over corporal punishment, to smack or not to smack. Smacking was commonplace when I was a kid and it was part of life. It was probably overused and some parents did it out of habit, rather than as a well thought out strategy to instill a sense of right and wrong. I tended to be smacked when I was being a nuisance rather than for the times when I was actually doing something bad. It was an unthinking response of the older generation, a lot of the time. Sometimes, it was calculated of course, and more like going to the Head Teacher’s office to get the cane. The next generation started to question parenting styles and a lot of people rejected smacking altogether.

If smacking is outlawed in the home, what can replace it? There are different measures, which parents employ, according to their choice of parenting styles. Stopping TV for a week or two is one way, or grounding a child may do the trick. It’s really a mercenary act of getting them where it hurts. Some kids will prefer a quick smack to being grounded and not being able to see their friends. Sending a child to his room doesn’t seem to work like it used to. These days, children’s bedrooms are full of the latest gadgets and home entertainment centres. It’s not exactly a place of punishment or quiet reflection!

Parents are very busy people, running a home and holding down jobs. It’s tempting to give in to children’s demands when you come home exhausted from a day at work. Kids can sense weakness and know when to strike! Parenting styles may have relaxed over the years and no one wants to go back to the Victorian severity when children were seen and never heard. However, it’s important that we don’t tip too far the other way. We don’t do our kids any favour’s by giving in to their every whim, and what they need most of all is having our attention. When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, we can focus on one important key area: giving them the positive attention they need and crave.

Kids need attention, plain and simple. If we don’t give it to them, they will seek out any attention they can get-even negative attention. They will push our buttons with negative behaviours, as to them, even having a negative attention is better than having no attention at all. This doesn’t mean we have to be at our child’s side 24-7 – just taking a few minutes, once or twice a day to spend one-on-one with our child, with no distraction, and doing something they want to do, will help our kids to become more cooperative and less likely to seek out attention in negative ways.

Although life is busy for everyone, and finding extra time in the day may be hard at first, but we have to think of this as an investment in our relationship with our children and in improving their behaviours. When it comes to knowing how to discipline our child, giving them what they need to avoid poor behaviours in the first place can have a great impact.

” It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men ”    Frederick Douglass


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