Lack of consistent discipline is increasingly becoming a major problem among families today. This new generation of parents is convinced that discipline means that we are abusing or unreasonably punishing our children. When in actuality lack of discipline is a form of abuse. Discipline, which comes from the root word disciple, means to teach and to guide, and when we guide our children toward positive behavior, we help them develop a healthy attitude toward life.
From my experience, stepfamilies have some of the most difficult challenges with discipline due to the complicated dynamics of the family. Often times, dad and stepmom aren’t on the same page; dad and ex-wife aren’t on the same page and mom and stepdad aren’t on the same page. All this leads to a lack of consistent discipline. Not to mention that divorced parents often make many excuses for their child’s negative behavior along the way. “She’s just hurt because of our divorce,” or “He’s just having a hard time dealing with our newly formed family.” As such, they become overly lenient and tend to overcompensate out of guilt from the divorce. Additionally, they tend to make them feel like the whole world owes them something because their parents divorced and everything revolves around solely them and their hurt feelings.
Now, in no way am I suggesting that we shouldn’t sympathize with these children. BUT, parents should demand the same positive behavior from the children as they did prior to the divorce, or it can lead to an adult child who uses their childhood divorce as an excuse for negative behavior. And negative behavior as adult equals consequences that are far more severe than those of a child. It’s important to teach our children that while they may be hurting and we completely understand, there are still basic rules of life and consequences if those rules are broken.
Overall, lack of discipline leads to spoiled children; whether those children are part of a bi-nuclear or intact family, and absence of discipline during a child’s formative years leads to difficult challenges for them as children and adults. It truly sets up patterns that can last a lifetime. Remember that these children will eventually leave your little world and go out into the real word where their behavior will not be tolerated and it will leave them confused. For example, when little Cindy goes to school and is put in time out for slapping Billy in the face, she might say, “What do you mean I can’t slap Billy when I don’t get what I want; that’s what I do to mommy?” Or, your teen may feel it is his right to act out at school and not suffer the consequences because his parents are divorced. Remember, that children will live what they learn. They don’t go out into the real world and just know all of sudden. It is our job as parents to teach them through discipline and guidance.
Are you raising a spoiled child? Sherry Rauh, from WebMD listed 10 ways to raise a spoiled child and 6 of them are below. How many apply to you?
Making Your Child the Center of the World
Making your child’s wishes the top priority in every circumstance teaches her that the world revolves around her. This could prevent her from learning to consider other people’s needs and desires, says Susan Buttross, MD, chief of the Division of Child Development and Behavior Pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. ” Children need to understand give and take, ” she tells WebMD. “When take is the only function they know, they tend to be frustrated.”
Accidentally Rewarding Negative Behavior
Harvey Karp, MD creator of The Happiest Toddler on the Block DVD and book, says that many parents make the mistake of simultaneously ignoring the positive and rewarding the negative. If you only notice your kids when they whine and cry, you send the message that tantrums and tears are the best way to get your attention.
Failing to put Clear Limits on Your Child’s Behavior
If you don’t set and enforce guidelines for good behavior, Buttross says, you’re likely to raise a child who is rude, uncooperative, and disrespectful. Karp adds that young kids are uncivilized by nature and part of our jobs as parents is to teach social virtues, such as patience and respect.
Not Enforcing Rules Consistently
While some parents fail to set limits, others set “mushy or inconsistent” ones, Karp says. This occurs when you tell your kids not to do something in a very passive way, but allow them to do it anyway. Examples of this may be allowing your toddler to play with food on some days, but not on others or allowing your teen to be rude and disrespectful to her stepparent on some days because you feel as if they are just hurting due to the divorce.
Not Holding Your Child Accountable
Refusing to hold your child accountable when he does something wrong sends the message that he never makes a mistake, Buttross says. This teaches your child to blame others whenever problems arise. Instead, teach your child the importance of taking responsibility for his own actions and then use firm boundaries to make sure he does so. Constantly making excuses for a child’s negative behavior teaches them to do the exact same thing when they become adults.
Giving in to Temper Tantrums
Relenting when your child throws a temper tantrum is an extreme form of rewarding negative behavior. It proves to kids that they can get whatever they want by throwing a fit; which is NOT how things happen in the real world. If your child throws a tantrum or displays negative behavior at school, there are consequences. By the same token, if they throw tantrums as an adult, there are consequences; which are often times far more severe.
Maintaining a consistent and effective approach to child discipline isn’t easy, but the benefits far out weigh the difficulty of the task. The benefits are that you end up with a compassionate child who understands boundaries, who empathizes with others and is not rude, disrespectful or manipulative. More importantly, you end up with an adult who realizes the same and doesn’t continually use excuses or blame others for their negative behavior. You end up with a person who can live in THIS world instead of their own little world.