We need to be tougher on kids. Really?

preemie onesie

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mothers at beach

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A first-time mom to a wee preemie, I was scared.  Hovering.  Defending. That was a great skill for the nearly 4 months he was in hospital, but he did come home.  Then I got confused.  I was just as vigilant. Historically, I was not “a kid person” — small family, not a babysitter, and for some years sported a lapel pin that said “non-breeder” haha.

Then he came.  The best surprise, my biggest challenge.  I turned to my elders with minute-to-minute questions.

“You’ve got to be tough on him to make him a man; slap his hand; bite him back; don’t give in or he’ll be a brat.”

Their answers pained me.  I’m a lover not a fighter, and could not work up that opposition to my wee fledgling. Between helicoptering and slapping, there is an ocean…

Imagine parents holding little kids at the ocean. That kid is hearing the roar, feeling the water, freezing their toes, getting pushed by the waves, wide eyed and squealing.  That parent is watching, excited, proud, and ready to sling that kid to the hip when they reach up.  That seems about right to me.

You are my sunshine

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Alissa Marquess’s recent blog post over on Creative With Kids about folks saying we need to be tougher on kids, Is This What Causes So Many Kids To Be Brats?, led me to understand that not wanting to raise a brat is really based in anger, animosity and an imagined future. And opposition.

“Once we start name calling by thinking of our child as a brat we’ve stepped away from our role as a leader and instead we’re parenting based on fear. “

I believe that we don’t need to be in opposition to our kids, we don’t have to see them as little enemies… though that witching hour right before bedtime is a real test!  Fear and opposition take the fun out of parenting.  Rules can put some of that fun back.  Yep, rules.

List the top three family squabbles.  Make one rule about each.  Write that down, done.  The only thing left to do is point to the written rule!  Well, it’s not that easy, I know.  But I’m finding that talking about the problem with my elementary kids and offering them two or three possibilities for The Rule (one very very strict) usually gets us on the same page.  So if they agree to it, the rule can’t be disputed later.  Consistency is key, and they’ll stop questioning the rules if you don’t back down three or four times in a row.  Don’t crack!  Don’t even let them see you THINK about cracking!  Haha, give it a try and come share your success over on Facebook.

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8 thoughts on “We need to be tougher on kids. Really?

  1. As a non-parent, I often wonder WHY parents let their kids run roughshod over them. After all, kids need rules and guidance. I don’t think it’s about being mean – but it IS about creating “these are our rules” and then sticking to them – along with good and bad consequences.

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    • Well, as an experienced parent who has given in many times for better and worse, they could be distracted and trying to keep kids quiet; parents could feel sorry because the kid was slighted at school; they could be feeling emotional or tired or whatever and not up to playing enforcer. But I think Talking about the rule, Writing it down, and Pointing to it when it comes up can help us all be strong and consistent. Thanks for reading, and for prompting me to think again even more clearly about the three steps, Talk, Write, Point. I might need a dry erase board in the car, haha.

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  2. What a great post, Angela! I can remember encountering people who had that kind of punitive aproach when my kids were small. It always seemed so crazy to me because it seemed to create a lot more problems than it solved.
    I love how you talk about giving your kids some choices in terms of rules or how to handle things. I know that with my son, it helped tremendously if I would invite his input rather than simply bark out orders at him. He was just too smart and needed to feel that he had a choice. So, I remember once asking him: “would you rather brush your teeth before your bath or after?” Of course, I was happy as both my objectives: bath and teeth” would be checked off the list (but pssst, don’t tell him. 🙂 and he was almost running up to get his toothbrush as opposed to the usual: “oh no, not bed-time already!”
    It was great when things happened so easily without a glitch, but I have just as many if not more of such stories full of glitches and being a parent it’s a constant learning experience! Whew!
    As kids get older, we need to give them more leeway and negotiate some things with them and they learn sooo much from how we model all of this.
    Fantastic post and I just love what you’re up to!

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    • Thank you so much, Gabrielle, for your kind words! Though I admit that at the end of some looong days I definitely feel the us vs. them creeping in. But I’m learning that those feelings are a sign that we ALL need to go directly to bed! Retreat to your corners, family! Haha. Thanks so so much for reading and commenting, I love your work too! 🙂

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    • Why, thank you so much, Deb! I still am working to Talk, Write, and Point to the rules. Seems like every other week a new “Opportunity” to go through the process comes up. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. xx a

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