Children value their freedom, but parents less so. When your kids wander away from you at the supermarket or at the park, the sense of dread is too much to bear. Likewise, when they get older and start leading a more or less independent life, it can be nerve-wracking not knowing where they are at all times and what is keeping them out so late (the concept of late varies too – for some parents it’s 8pm, for others 5pm).
Some parents deal with this anxiety by being overly strict and kids are not fans of that. Other parents, fearing the reaction of their loved offsprings, pretend to be “cool” with it, and end up giving their children too much leeway, making them feel neglected. The balance can be tricky to find – here’s how we can make it easier for you.
- Define boundaries for both of you to develop trust
If you say to your kid he is supposed to be home by six and he never misses curfew, why do you keep calling him every time? Similarly, if you say one hour each night is for homework and you never heard any complaints from school about missing papers, why do you keep entering your kid’s room to check up on him and make sure he is doing as he is told?
Children pick up when their parents do not trust them and it can make them feel like they are keeping their side of the bargain but you are not. Providing little moments of freedom when your kid is proven to abide by your rules is a way to establish trust. That way, an order turns into an agreement – you promise me you’ll do your homework, and I won’t be spying on you and yelling if I see at that particular moment you are actually playing PlayStation.
- Safe your punishments for when they are actually needed – and follow through
If you punish your kid for every little thing, punishment is going to become more of a routine than a time of reflection and repentance. On the other hand, if all you do is threaten, the punishment will never materialize at all and eventually, the fear of it will vanish.
First, when your kid does something bad, try to understand their motives and whether it was done on purpose or not. If he lied to a teacher to protect a friend, for example, that situation might merit more of a conversation about the limits of loyalty and not a whole week without TV. Second, if you find he acted on purpose, make sure the punishment fits the crime.
- Nothing justifies corporal punishment
Your kid could have caused a massive car accident, it still wouldn’t be okay to hit him. Some parents think corporal punishments work when everything else has failed, but usually the definition of “everything else” is quite limited – yelling and taking toys and gadgets away are not the sole forms of making your kid realize he did something wrong.