Nothing compares to the love of a parent for his or her child. Ask any mom or dad and it’s likely they’ll tell you they cherish their kids more than their partners (which shouldn’t be the case, by the way). And while that’s all good, sometimes we tend to love our kids to a fault, to their detriment.
In an article she wrote for redbookmag, Nicola Kraus, bestselling author of The Nanny Diaries, makes a case for the need to be a stricter parent.
“I have sat in enough restaurants watching unfettered children run past servers balancing scalding bowls of soup to know that our generation seems to be discipline-handicapped,” reads one part.
Unfortunately, many parents still think of discipline as punishment, and that not imposing rules is a way of showing love. They believe that by turning a blind eye, they are making their children feel accepted, when all that really does is encourage more bad behavior that eventually gets out of hand. As Kraus qualifies, “Children aren't damaged by discipline, they're damaged by cruelty.”
Or, maybe, for some parents, it’s a case of not wanting to deal with bad behavior right that moment, knowing how stressful a confrontation can get.
“Typically those moments that they test the boundaries are exactly when we, too, are so tired we just want to keep things moving. But, unfortunately, that is the exact moment you have to harness a little extra will to impose a Think Time, or whatever your preferred method is.”
Kraus admits sometimes it’s tempting to let bad behavior slide just one time, because how bad can one instance get? Very, apparently.
“There were nights I was bone tired and just wanted to have a nice evening with Sophie, but she would test me and my first thought was, ‘Dammit, I do not want to do this now.’
“But I also knew if I didn’t let her know that defying me was not okay it would lead to greater problems down the road.”
Here’s a fact many parents will find hard to believe: Children want rules.
Says Kraus, “They crave boundaries. They repeat unwanted behavior, like tantrums and violence, because they’re escalating it, waiting for someone to care enough to tell them no.
“They might not react with gratitude in the moment, of course, but, in the long term, kids who know that there are clear rules feel more secure. And Dr. Brene Brown has documented this all the way up through college,” she adds.
If you do this consistently early enough in your kids’ lives, looking them in the eye and telling them firmly why something they just did should not be repeated will often suffice. But allow it to happen too often and you’ll be regretting it soon.
“Make no mistake — left unchecked, bad behavior rolls right along. One minute you have a toddler punching her mother until she gets quieted with an ice cream — and the next you have a Real Housewife. Undisciplined toddlers become obnoxious children who grow into spoiled teenagers and entitled adults.”