Being a parent comes with its ups and downs, successes and mishaps. Your style of parenting has likely had to shift and grow as you, your children and your family changes. Sometimes, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what decisions are “right” and “wrong,” but how do you determine if you’re being too strict with your children? Here are some points to keep in mind.
Rules Shouldn’t Inhibit Decision Making
Ensure that your rules are grounded in your values and that these are clearly laid out for your child. In other words, what are you trying to teach your child as you implement your rules and consequences? If your restriction lacks a tangible purpose, value or lesson, then it may be too strict or, at the very least, confusing for your child.
Understand the Values Behind Your Rules
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On the flip side, knowing that your rules are based on your family’s values helps you to enforce them, particularly when your children try to push back. At the end of the day, this will cultivate a sense of mutual understanding within your family as you navigate rules and consequences.
Avoid “Random” and Unrealistic Consequences
Similar to applying a value to your rules, it’s important to be sure that your consequences make sense with the rule that’s broken. In other words, consequences should be used as a platform to teach your child a lesson about their actions. For example, if your teen is mean to their younger sibling, taking away their phone might make them annoyed, but it won’t teach them ways that they can love and support their sibling in the future. Instead, having them cheer on their younger sibling at their upcoming sports game instead of going to their friend’s house might teach them the importance of being kind to family members.
Continuing on with this idea, it’s important to set consequences that are manageable and realistic. Telling your teen that they’re grounded for a year is not only unenforceable, but unnecessary. Instead, be sure that the consequences you set are ones you can actually stick to.
Make Room for Independence
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The rules you set shouldn’t inhibit your child’s lessons in decision making. This only teaches your child to avoid certain behaviors when they know you’re watching, rather than teaching them the value of good behavior because it’s the right thing to do. Avoid making all decisions for your child; instead, allow them to make their own choices, perhaps laying out the possible outcomes of each choice for them as they learn how to manage their own decisions.
Of course, when it comes to teaching your child these previously mentioned values, there are still times when you should step in. One way to ensure that you’re not being too strict is to avoid crossing the line into dictating their interests. One example could be with regards to extracurricular activities. Generally speaking, these aren’t a matter of safety or value, but of personal interest and passion for your child. Instead of insisting that they continue an activity that they really don’t like, perhaps you can encourage your child to explore hobbies and skills that they truly love. This will help them to develop themselves as a unique individual and to feel a sense of independence.
At the end of the day, each child requires different parenting techniques and there is no right or wrong way to guide them as they grow. Simply aim to be open to change and learn along with them throughout their adolescence.
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