Being thoughtful, caring and sensitive to others is a good thing. Right?
Sure. But if you are an empathetic person who hasn’t learned to care for yourself, too, you can easily fall into the trap of being a Doormat. Used, but not respected. And eventually worn out and thrown away.
I was a ‘Doormat Mom’
With my first child, I unconsciously embraced being a ‘doormat’, fearing if I said ‘no’ to any request, it would damage her emotionally. I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to satisfy every whim and clean up the messes as fast as she made them. Unfortunately, she was faster at making them than I was at cleaning them up.
By the time she had turned three, I realized I knew NOTHING about handling a toddler-terrorist who had come to expect to get her own way.
Luckily I was thrown a life preserver. A book called, ‘Dare To Discipline’, by Dr. James Dobson. It kept me from drowning and gave me tools I needed. I learned to say, “No”, to deal with temper tantrums and to stand my ground.
Through the years I would make new mistakes, but continued to voraciously seek out parenting wisdom from many sources – like Chris Thompson, the Toddler-Whisperer and Charlotte Mason, a respected Homeschool expert. Plus, Darlene Lancer helped me uncover the causes of my tendency to be a people-pleaser.
To spank or not to spank?
This is definitely a controversial topic, and one that was my biggest conflict. As an overly sensitive mom, I probably swatted my kids probably two or three times in their entire childhood when they were little. And I felt bad about it.
Some say it’s OK, UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS: I asked one lady who has the most well-behaved, loving, intelligent and creatively accomplished children I have ever encountered. When I asked if she ever spanked her kids, she said, “Yes…under certain conditions.”
She would NEVER spank for an accidental mistake, but only for an intentional misbehavior… and ONLY for these TWO REASONS:
Outright Disobedience or Disrespect (Sassy-ness)
She would use either her open hand or a wooden spoon to swat their behinds once – so they would remember the lesson.
However, the experts have weighed in on this issue.
THE EXPERTS SAY, ‘NO’
Spanking is harmful.
One behavioral therapist with 25 years experience said,
“There is NEVER a reason to inflict pain on a child. If that is the only way a parent thinks they can gain compliance they are sadly mistaken. Cultivating mutual respect, consistent limit setting and good co-parenting removes the need to ever have to spank a child. You can’t teach a child to not hit when you are hitting them… I teach positive parenting and collaborative problem solving…so much better than spanking.”
I have always advised over and over again in articles I have written and linked to, to find non-violent methods of getting kids to understand and cooperate, so they will WANT to do the right thing, and not because you force them.
Here are my behavior charts: “Thank, Don’t Spank”.
Getting a plan for discipline: http://www.gomommygo.com/getaplan.html
WHY IS DISCIPLINE IMPORTANT?
Kids are experts at ‘Brinkmanship’, meaning: Their actions test you constantly, saying, “How close can I get to the edge before someone pulls me back and saves me?”
You are the one who needs to stop them before they get to the edge. And they will test you every time to see if you are watching.
They need to learn that you are in charge. That you DO know more than they do, that it is for their own good to obey, and that they cannot wipe their feet on you. Eventually it will become a habit for them to respect others and work hard (like when they grow up and need to get a job and obey their boss!)
What a hard job parenting is.
But remember why you are doing this: It is out of love for our children that we are guiding them to be the best people they can be. Parent your children well and you will also be blessing those who deal with your child later in life.
There is a lot more to explore on this topic, so check out these other age-specific tips on discipline, here!
Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder and Director of EDU DESIGNS
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