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Is your Child Discipline too Lax?
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  Article Date:
September 08, 2008



Modern psychology suggests that today's parents need to give their children room to develop their own mindsets and make personal decisions. We're told not to take them to church so they can choose a religion when they are older, yet how can they choose when they've never been taught any spiritual values? Parents are advised to let kids make mistakes and learn from them, but is it a good idea to allow kids to run in front of a car and get hit to teach them the consequences of disobedience?

While these examples may seem to point toward the far end of the spectrum, there are times when parents take a lax approach to child discipline. This may be due to busy schedules, inexperience, or uncertainty on the parents' part. But when parents start noticing certain clues in their children's behavior, it is time to step in and adjust the discipline to make it more effective. Here are some of the warning signs that your current disciplinary approach may not be working:

1. Kids don't listen. When you tell them to do something, they either ignore you, argue their way out of it, or say they'll do it but don't. This means they don't take you seriously and aren't too worried about whether you know it or not. This is a good time to have a serious talk about the importance of obedience and your need to be more firm, with age-appropriate consequences to follow inappropriate actions. For example, when they ask to go to a friend's house to play, explain they can go just as soon as their chores are finished. When they ignore your reminder that bedtime has arrived, turn off the television and tell them they will need to be in bed 30 minutes earlier the next night. Be fair and be consistent, and you should see better results.

2. Kids are disrespectful. When children talk back to their parents or fail to show respect to authorities, it is important for parents to take control of the situation. Explain the importance of mutual respect within a family and a society. Then post rules indicating the consequences for talking back, yelling, or using other types of improper communication or attitudes. Consequences may include loss of telephone or computer privileges or grounding from social activities. Set a good example.

3. Kids are non-compliant. When you ask them to do something, they refuse. Or when you expect cooperation, they avoid it through a series of skillful maneuvers. There is passive or aggressive non-compliance. Both kinds reflect undesirable attitudes in your children. Teach them the value of working with authorities like parents, teachers, and law officers, not plotting against them. You may need to monitor what they read and watch on television as well as who they hang out with. Discipline includes guidance as well as correction.

4. Kids are rude to others. This may include running in public places like the grocery store where they can bump into elderly folk. Or they make interrupt adult conversations. Perhaps they disrespect someone's property or make fun of a disabled person. A parent's job includes teaching children how to respect the rights and property of others, and to punish them when they fail to do so. Allowing kids to get away with acts of delinquency or vandalism, and covering for them when they do so helps to make outlaws, not citizens, of kids.

5. Kids are sneaky and secretive. When you learn that your child is breaking rules behind your back, such as talking on the phone late or night or going to forbidden places with friends, you must put your foot down and clarify boundaries as well as issue punishments for infractions of household rules. Explain that rules are to protect rather than hinder us, and that you punish kids because you love them so much you are unwilling to let them get hurt.

Being a parent isn't always fun, especially when it comes to discipline. If your disciplinary strategies aren't working, be prepared to reevaluate the situation and revise your approach to guide and correct your children for their own good and society's well-being.