Monmouth County's Ask The Doctor September/October 2019

K I D S ’ H E A L T H

Women Who Can’t Say No to Their Children By Pam Teel

Come on now, you all know one or two of them. They could be your friend, a sibling, an in-law, or even a neighbor. They are the ones who usually have the unruly demanding child who wants it their way or no way at all. Their parents, rather than disciplining them the old fashioned way, have opted to try a different approach to their children’s demands. It’s known as “Permissive Parenting,” which can be de- scribed as giving in to your child so you don’t have to put up with his/her ranting and ravings. Permissive parenting is a type of parenting style characterized by low demands with high responsiveness. Permissive parents tend to be very loving, yet provide few guidelines and rules. These parents do not expect mature behavior from their children and often seem more like a friend than a parental figure. These par- ents tend to be the polar opposite of the so-called "helicopter parents." Instead of hovering over their children's every move, permissive parents are incredibly lax and rarely make or enforce any type of rules or structure. Their motto is often simply that "kids will be kids." While they are usually warm and loving, they make little or no attempt to control or discipline their kids. Because there are few rules, expec- tations, and demands, children raised by permissive parents tend to struggle with self-regulation and self-control. Another words, they grow up, spoiled, demanding, and wanting everything their way.

Gentle Parenting is another new philosophy that actually doesn’t rely on punishments at all, because parents feel that’s not what dis- cipline is about, and although it may help to get immediate obedience from your child, it does not cultivate a heartfelt willingness to do what’s right. Gentle parenters feel that when they discipline their children they are teaching them how to conduct themselves in this big world around them but they don’t get there by punishing children, which can leave them feeling ashamed of their mistakes. Instead they give children the freedom to make mistakes and they help them overcome those mistakes together. Gentle Parenting helps the child fix the problem with a capable adult by their side, thus teaching their children to obey authority not out of fear of punishment or desire for reward, but out of respect. The new generation of gentle parenting never use words like, “No’ or “Naughty,” even if their kids are out of control, for fear of dam- aging their confidence. Gentle parenting means a partnership with your kids where they want to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. And by “no punishments” they don’t use time-outs, smacking, shaming or yelling. They use gentle or positive discipline, which aims to teach children empathy, self-control and calmness. They argue that to offer rewards and punishments overrides a child’s natural inclination to try. It teaches them to behave in certain ways for a reward, or to avoid punishment. Many new generation parents are bypassing the good talking too and the time out in a corner for bad behavior. Instead they opt to explain to their child the consequences of their actions rather than raising their voice, saying no, or punishing them. After the tantrums have resolved and the problems settle down, they try to engage in a constructive discussion on the negative impact of their tantrums and how it affects everyone else around them. That is if the parent ever makes it to that stage. Throwing discipline out the window for a discussion with a young child most often is a mute point. Young children have the capacity for only simple discipline. Parents will need a lot of patience trying to explain their children’s bad behavior with a lengthy discussion when something is not okay. Trying to treat your child as you would an adult just isn’t going to work. Children need boundaries, not negotiations. According to the gentle parent approach, the word no doesn’t teach children anything. If a parent labels their kids as naughty, they say it’s all about them not knowing how to channel their emotions. Does a parent really need to explain why they said no to their child? In today’s world, erasing no from a child’s vocabulary will lead to children who feel they can do and say anything they want whenever they want. They need to learn what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s up to the parents to discipline their children at home so they don’t’ think it’s acceptable to carry on with the same behavior patterns in school, church, or with their peers. They need to learn at an early age what’s acceptable and what’s not. Learning how to say, “No” is part of an essential toolkit that all children need to help them make good deci- sions, not just in the now but in the future. At some point in time in their life, someone is going to tell them no. How are they going to handle it once they are adults and on their own? Children need to know that behaving badly will lead to a consequence. Gentle parenters will tell you their kids are never naughty, even if they really are. A parent’s job is to create independent, capable children and the training starts at a young age. Your job is to set the limit, not to con- trol how your child feels about it or reacts to it. Parents can get stuck in a pattern of giving even though they want to set limits. It’s not too late to take back your authority so you can help your child develop skills they will need to cope in the real world. Parents become too focused on the short term goal, which is to make it go away quickly so they can get some of their own down time or just to keep the peace. If this sound like you and you’re doing a good job avoiding the situation, it’s time to focus on the bigger picture. You need to adhere to constant limit setting. Don’t be influenced by outside sources like family members, friends and neighbors. You know your child the best. No matter the reason, giving in on a quick fix will always guarantee problems later. Ask yourself what’s the best thing to do for my child right now? Set Limits and don’t be afraid to give consequences in order to teach them an important lesson about their unacceptable behavior. Always keep these questions in the back of your mind, “What do I want them to learn here? How do I want my child to act as they grow older?” Focus on what you yourself can control. Let them know the negative way they act is not going to get them what they want and then just walk away. Call a friend, work on a craft, do something to alleviate your frustration from the situation. The times you don’t follow through and you do give in will be the ones your child will remember.

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