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  • That 'Galit na Ako' Voice Is a Temporary Fix: 3 Discipline Tactics to Use Instead

    As a parent, the stern personality can lead to more defiance, according to a parenting expert.
    by Kitty Elicay .
That 'Galit na Ako' Voice Is a Temporary Fix: 3 Discipline Tactics to Use Instead
PHOTO BY iStock
  • When a child is exhibiting particularly challenging behavior, many parents resort to using a stern voice, the one that means business, to discipline the misbehaving child. But a parenting expert believes that projecting a strict personality toward your child is not always effective.

    “[Being stern] can seem to curb a child’s challenging behavior [at] the moment, but will generally lead to continued testing, resistance, defiance, and limit-pushing,” writes Janet Lansbury, a parenting educator, author, and host of the popular podcast Respectful Parenting, in her website.

    This strategy is not effective, says Lansbury, for two specific reasons.

    Children can tell if you're just pretending

    Kids are sensitive to our feelings and intentions. When mommy or daddy is stern, it can only mean one of two things to kids: “Either we are putting on an act to make a point, or we are genuinely annoyed, angry, [and] seething,” says Lansbury.

    If they sense that the parents are only acting, the effect will be counter-productive. Instead of obeying, they might find it amusing and even be tempted to repeat the misbehavior to see if mommy or daddy will continue to blow their top off. “In other words, our overresponse gives our child’s undesirable behavior power,” says Lansbury.

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    On the other hand, if your child understands your sternness to be genuine, they will get scared. Your child needs to see you as a respectful and confident leader, not someone he needs to fear.

    “Discipline isn’t effective when it’s a matter of releasing our own frustration,” says Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, in her column for Psychology Today. “When your children are yelled at, they rarely remember the lesson their parent was trying to get across. What they do remember is the fear that overcame them when that parent lost his or her cool.”

    That fear can make children feel unsafe and uncomfortable, and their behavior might only get worse. “[Being stern] creates distance where we need closeness and trust, and it can perpetuate a negative behavior cycle,” says Lansbury.

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    Being stern can lead parents to become “rough”

    Curbing misbehavior often needs a follow-through with physical actions, like leading him out of the store when he starts to have a meltdown, lifting him onto the car seat for a timeout, or removing the object that’s causing the misconduct from his hands. Being stern can make you lose control, and Lansbury says parents who ask for her advice are mostly afraid of being too forceful or abusive toward their child.

    Take a moment to release your frustrations before you approach and react to your child. “By staying calm, you’re also modeling — and teaching — your child the type of behavior you want to see in him,” according to The Child Mind Institute.

    “Being physical with our children in a loving, protective manner is a part of parenting that we can’t shy away from,” says Lansbury. By keeping calm and proceeding with love, you are safeguarding your child against roughness or other harmful behavior.

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    As we often say in Smart Parenting, your child’s defiance and misbehavior are normal and part of a child’s development. Lansbury even says it’s “almost always” healthy. He is testing out his independence, and your job is to take control of the situation to avoid a power struggle.

    Whether your child is calm, strong-willed, or somewhere in between, all children need respectful, confident leadership, says Lansbury. To embody this, Lansbury suggests using these three C’s as a guide:

    1. Clear. “Am I feeling or being clear about my expectations and communicating them in a simple language?
    2. Certain. “Do I feel certain about this rule or boundary (knowing that I can always change my mind as needed)?”
    3. Comfortable. “Am I comfortable establishing this limit, even if it means being in disagreement with my child?”

    But what if you still lose your cool despite being mindful of these reminders? Breathe — it does not mean you are a terrible parent. These feelings are valid, and it is also healthy for children to see that humans have emotions and limits. But hopefully, these outbursts from your end become less and less. A child needs a parent who can provide limits and clear guidelines so that in turn, he’ll learn the skills needed to become a responsible and disciplined individual.

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