Discipline is one area where I fail miserably as a parent. I have discussed my concerns with many experienced parents and have read a number of articles to help me grasp the problems I encounter. But somehow, I have always felt inadequate in being able to discipline my 4-year-old.
Root Cause of failure in disciplining my child:
After investing lot of time and speculation, I’ve arrived at three key issues that have been keeping me from achieving desired results:
- When I was a child, my parents’ temper had been the major disciplining force. I used to be too scared of the consequences which would entail severe scolding (only) if I dared to be mischievous or didn’t do as I was asked to. This approach when tried, left me feeling miserable and guilty to no bounds and hence I promised myself to not adopt it on my child. Beyond this, I had no inkling on how to inspire my child to adopt a disciplined life.
- The bouts of depression that came along with my divorce, unfortunately, left me confused, broken, frustrated and scared of landing up with the mammoth responsibility of being a single parent. I was in a fragile state of mind, unsure of myself and clueless of how I’ll give my child a good life.
- My child and I are temperamentally poles apart. The many challenges parenthood hurled my way infused me the feeling of being a failure parent. I have often caught myself sinking in the ocean of the notion that I am not a good enough parent when it comes to understanding my child.
It took me a lot of homework, introspection and delving into my pent-up emotions to chalk out the above three issues. But ever since I had the clear picture in view, I knew what all I had in hand and what areas I needed to work on.
I had to begin working on my own self to reach an acceptable point of exercising methods of disciplining my child. The journey has been uphill and failures frequent. However, my guiding light has been my determination to evolve as a calmer, clear-headed, smart parent.
I have been guilty of yelling at my child, trying to scare her with negative consequences for bad behavior and failing miserably to implement them. I have written at length about the reasons for the same here and here.
After many hits and misses, I came to realize that for my child the one thing that works well is positive discipline. Positive reinforcement. Praising the good, ignoring the mistakes and encouraging the child to work on their strengths. With anger & frustration keeping me at my wit’s end putting it into practice has been very tough for me.
Pari has been a stubborn kid since birth. Her obstinate behavior makes her fight all odds and people irrespective of who they are to do things as she pleases. Locking horns with her were taking me nowhere and were injecting frustration enough to make me go insane day by day.
That’s when I decided in my heart to play to her strengths. I had to learn to let go more than my over-cautious self would normally allow. I had to learn to choose my battles wisely. I had to train myself to see the bigger picture of letting her eat instant noodles for dinner before an exam rather than blowing the nutritious food trumpet all the time.
Not wanting to do the homework on an evening is seen as a crime in my family. It took me long to let Pari be and not get dark circles worrying about the homework not done because when I chose to let her be, she surprised me by waking earlier than usual and finishing it before going to school.
Setting clear expectations has helped me big time. Earlier, when I wasn’t clear on my expectations from her, I was only adding to her baffled state and my misery. Gradually, I have learnt to picture situations and plan ahead.
I now talk to Pari openly, honestly and as clearly I can make it. I encourage dialogue so that we are clear about where we’re coming from and she is coherent of my expectations from her. I tell her before every activity (be it eating, homework, outing, shopping, et al) what all is expected of her and what she can give a miss if she pleases. It’s our private talk, but she is briefed beforehand that keeps her carefree and myself relaxed from the anxiety of checking her endlessly.
In the year gone by, I have come a long way in disciplining. Pari still acts stubborn, gets on my nerves with her wrong choices leading to harmful consequences (like catching a cold for eating ice-cream in cold weather). You can see us mother-daughter fight like siblings, not talking to each other for an hour or two, I sometimes lose my patience under work stress but overall, with time we’re getting saner.
Though there’s a long way to go and I am aware there will never be a point when I’ll master the art of disciplining my child. But, life is about constant improvement. I am getting wiser with every mistake I make. I am getting calmer with every knot I’ve managed to untangle in my mind. I am getting smarter as I am able to understand my child’s temperament better with each experience we share.
I am working on setting a positive example by being what I expect her to be. Working hard (read very hard) to control my stress levels and give her positive attention. I’m sure someday I’ll be a lot clearer on this topic than I am today.
But most of all, I take a moment out every day to let Pari feel that I love her unconditionally no matter what may happen.
How difficult has disciplining your child been for you?
Which method(s) of disciplining work best for your child?
* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.
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