Hard Nose or Soft Heart?

Soft Heart

When it comes to parenting, some still say “spare the rod and spoil the child.” But must you choose between being a tough guy or a softie? We show you why you don’t have to be either…

It’s a question most parents wrestle with: Should I be strict with my kids — or give them plenty of leeway to make their own mistakes? When it comes to discipline, there’s no right, or easy, answer. However, this much is true: effective discipline depends on the relationship already built between the parent and the child.

In other words, if you want your kids to obey, establish the groundwork beforehand to ensure they’ll listen. So it’s not really of question of having to be tough or liberal. It’s about building a foundation of trust based on several principles that any parent can follow:

Be Fair – Always make sure the punishment is even-handed and fits the crime.
Be Specific – When you give instructions, be very clear. Often it’s a good idea to ask your child to repeat what you’ve said.
Be A Role Model – Go out of your way to provide examples of good and proper behavior yourself.
Be Firm – Testing limits is part of human nature, and your kids will automatically want to see how much they can get away with. Stick to your guns. It will help if you take the necessary time to determine the appropriate punishment. It’s much easier to stand behind a logical decision than an impulsive one.

Be Consistent – Never make promises you may not be able to keep. Nothing will wreck your credibility with a child faster than reneging on a lightly made promise. Instead, say, “I’ll try.”

Once you’ve established an environment of trust for your child, you’ll find you have more flexibility. You can be strict when necessary. Other times, you can allow some extra space. If you have a track record of being fair and firm, your child will be more apt to respect your limits.

But, remember, it still won’t be smooth sailing all the time. Parenting never is!


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