how to discipline your child

How to teach your child important skills without having to pull out all your hair

Your wish for your child is that he becomes self disciplined, independent and he is able to follow rules so that he can become a successful, productive citizen. However, sometimes you feel extremely frustrated because you have to repeat instructions 700 times before he budges. Well, don't despair. It is possible to teach your child rules and give him self discipline without the feeling of daily frustration.

First of all, why is it important for a child to be self disciplined? Well it's simple. A self disciplined child is able to regulate his emotions better (not scream and shout when things don't go his way), he will be able to follow rules easier (when he's in school and the teacher says to complete 5 questions, he'll be able to do it) and honestly, he'll get along with the kids on the playground a lot better.

So are you ready to learn how to teach your child important skills like how to brush his teeth, tie his shoe laces, make his bed, etc?

1) Make sure the skills are age appropriate: Sometimes parents expect just too much from their kids. Only teach skills that a child can master at that age. Don't try to teach a 2 year old how to wash dishes or a 6 year old to mow the lawn. Sure there are some genius kids who can do it, but the average 6 year old just doesn't have that type of mastery. Before you get upset that your child isn't able to do something, first ask yourself if he is capable. Some children are also not as mature as their age mates. So try not to compare your child to others. Teach him skills that he is able to complete.

2) Make sure your directions are clear and simple: Parents are known for shouting out 17 instructions at once- "Go downstairs, get a cup of water, get your bag, grab your lunch, comb your hair, then wait for me to come downstairs." Woah!! Very few children (or adults) can remember 7 instructions at once. First, do not yell instructions from one room to the other. Talking through walls isn't very effective. Call your child into the room where you are, then only give him 1 or 2 instructions at once. Sometimes you can have him repeat the instructions to ensure that he heard and understood you. If your instructions are not clear or simple you're setting him up for failure and setting yourself up for frustration.

3) Watch your frustration level: When you're in a hurry or you're upset, that's the worst time to dish out instructions. You won't have time to explain clearly and your child will be stressed out. Also, if you're giving your child an instruction for a challenging task, chances are that he's going to need extra help. So don't set yourself up for failure. Only assign difficult tasks when you know you're going to have an extra minute to help him. Most kids cannot perform well under pressure. It's a simple fact. They'll get upset or have a meltdown.

4) Remove all distractions: Before giving out instructions, make sure the TV and video game console are off. There's no point competing with World of War Craft or Sponge Bob-don't try. First make sure your child isn't distracted, then give him 1 or 2 simple instructions. Sometime your child won't understand your instructions. Instead of yelling or getting frustrated, just repeat it in an easier format. Many parents will say things like "Why are you so distracted?" or "You just don't listen." But the problem is not the child, the problem is with the teacher. 

5) Use praise: After your child follows through, praise him. If you ask him to pass the salt and he does, say "Thank you." If he cleans up his room, give him a high five. These things not only build his self esteem, but they encourage him to continue to contribute to the household in a positive way. I know what you're about to say, "My mom never praised me for mowing the lawn. So I'm not going to praise my child." Well if you want a child with high self esteem and self discipline who has a strong, positive relationship with you, it'll only help to sow the seeds now.

6) Leave room for questions and errors: Many parents run their households like military installations. They don't leave any room for their kids to question them. It's okay if your child asks you why you use Windex on the glass instead of Mr. Clean or why you mow the lawn in a certain way. Children are curious. If you're not satisfying their curiosity at home, when they get older, they'll find other influences to give them the attention they need- and you won't like it.  Plus the truth is that no one wants to raise a zombie child who doesn't ask questions. No one wants their child to just obey without reasoning first. If you want an independent, smart child, leave room for questions and for errors. The best investors and the most successful CEOs are people who are constantly questioning the system. Also remember that your kids will make mistakes. You can either beat them down when they do or teach them resiliency. It's your choice.

And to learn more about Why do your kids behave the way they do? click the link to read another blog post.

What are some ways you teach your child simple instructions? If you're in the Murrieta or Temecula area and you'd like to learn more about ways to improve your relationship with your child, how to strengthen his/her self esteem, and how to manage misbehavior so that your home becomes a safe haven, call me on 951-905-3181 or email me here. We'll talk about my 8-week parenting support group. If you feel like it's a good fit for you, I'll put you on the waitlist. You too can have a peaceful home with self disciplined, happy kids. 

How to build a better relationship with your child

It is every parent's dream to nurture their children into responsible, happy, successful adults. But the problem is so many parents have no clue how to achieve that dream. Well, let me be honest with you-being a parent is incredibly difficult, but if you are able to create a solid relationship with your kids, your life will be significantly easier.

The job of nurturing your kids begins when they are born. Here are some quick tips on how to continue to build on your relationship with your kids. 

1) Spend time with your baby: The job of bonding with your child should begin when your kids are newborns. Spend time holding your child, lay him on your chest, talk to him, sing with him and let him feel, hear and see the love you emit-and this also goes for dads as well. Doing this gives your child a comfortable sense of security which he will need in order to stand tall as he grows older. Even if you don't have a lot of free time, make sure you're able to carve out alone time with your baby each day. Quality time weighs more than quantity of time.

2) Utilize drive time properly: As your child gets older, he'll be spending a lot more time in the car, and chances are you'll be his chauffeur. Instead of letting him drown you out with his phone or his music, or you drowning him out with your phone calls, use that time to go over his mood, what he learned in school, learn about who he's hanging out with, what's going wrong in school and so much more information. It's no longer enough to just ask "How was school?" You have to dig deeper. Ask him who he sat with at lunch, what games he played, who his favorite teacher is, who his least favorite teacher is as well as the highs and lows of his day.

This sends the message that you're listening, you care, and you're a safe person for him to talk to. Close parent-child relationships are built over the course of time.

3) Make punishments a teachable moment: Now all isn't peaches and rainbows in the world of parenting. There are going to be times when your child steps outside of the boundaries you've created and you have to give him a consequence. It's just the way the world works. First make sure you're not punishing your child while you're very upset-you'll end up saying and doing things you regret. 

After calming down, think through a punishment that fits the situation, then calmly explain what your child did wrong, why it was wrong and give him some time to explain his thought process. Why? Because it helps him learn how to process his emotions and think about consequences (a skill every good human needs to know). When the punishment is over, mend fences with him and let him know that you love him no matter what. Don't ever let your child go to bed thinking he's bad or that your relationship is broken in some way.

 4) Be aware of your child's feelings: Be vigilant. When your child is throwing a fit (yes, even those teenagers), rather than screaming at him, ask him what's wrong. You see kids aren't fully developed and they sometimes don't know how to process things. It's your job to teach him about emotions and how to properly handle them. Don't get mad at your child because he's mad (that's madness-Pun Intended). Rather, help him get to the root cause of his anger and show him that it's okay to not always be happy.

 This shows your child what empathy looks like and it gives him a feeling that he's secure around you. If your child doesn't feel emotionally secure in your home, he'll find security somewhere else-and you won't like it.

 5) Encourage your child to have an opinion: Don't raise a robot. Include your child in some of the decisions in the home. This will teach him advanced reasoning skills which he needs to be a successful and productive adult. After all, no parent wants to raise a child who just follows others blindly.

 6) Focus on the positives: Your job as a parent is to be the coach, guide and confidante. If you're able to play these three roles well, you'll be happy with yourself. But too often, parents focus on the weaknesses and wrong doings of their kids. That isn't to say that you should never correct your child, but if you're overly critical, your kids will be hurt, disgruntled and overly hardened.

Think about the words you say to your children in any given day. Are the majority commands and criticisms or are they ego building and kind? It takes 3 positive words to drown out 1 negative word from a child's mind, so make sure you're pouring in much more positive than negative.

A parent is a child's first mirror.

 And if you’d like to learn more about Why do your kids behave the way they do? check out the highlighted blog post.

If these tips were helpful to you at all and you want to learn more practical parenting skills to help you improve your relationship with your child, give me a call at 951-905-3181. My 8-week Toddlers to Tweens parenting support group (held in Murrieta) teaches parents ways to improve their relationship with their kids, how to properly manage misbehavior and how to encourage good behavior. You can also email me here to find out if the parenting class is a great fit for you.

How to discipline your child appropriately

During the summer time, there is a growing strain on parents. The kids are home from school and sometimes, your patience wears thin. You love your kids, but sometimes, they get on your last nerves. Now at the back of your mind you know that they're just kids and your expectations for them aren't too lofty. You don't expect them to be perfect little angels all the time, but sometimes you feel like they are NEVER perfect little angels. Over the next few weeks I'll be giving you tips on how to manage your kids appropriately so that both you and them can co-exist in a happy and healthy way. Now doesn't that sound fun? Here are some simple tips to get you started:

1) Set clear rules: Often times when I talk to parents, I notice that their rules for their kids are either non existent or very unclear. Parents spend a lot of time telling kids what not to do and little to no time telling them what to actually do. So for example, if your kids have a habit of running in the house, rather than yelling 100 times "Don't Run!!" Tell them exactly what you want them to do in a simple, clear, calm sentence. Be age appropriate. So if your child is 3, you won't give him 10 rules-he can't remember all that. Say something like "Please [yes say please] walk carefully in the house." Now your child knows the rules. You can even have him repeat them after you.

A quick assignment for you. Write out 5 simple rules your kids can follow, have a discussion with your kids about the rules, make sure they actually understand them, then post them in a public place such as your kitchen or living room. This sets a clear expectation for your kids.

Now you will have to refer to the rules several times until your kids get used to them, it's just a part of a parent's life. Don't be frustrated. I'm sure you've broken a few rules in your day. 

2) Have a clear discussion with your child when the rules have been broken: After setting the rules, explaining them to your child and posting them in a public place, understand that your child will still break the rules. Rather than losing it, be prepared. Now this is to be used when your child breaks a minor rule e.g. he runs in the house, spills a glass of water, breaks a toy-something minor. 

Call the child, remind him about the rule ("We walk calmly in the house"). Then tell him the reason for the rule ("We walk calmly so that we don't break something or hurt ourselves"). Third, give him an opportunity to practice the rule ("Now please go back and walk like a big boy"). And just like that you've helped your child practice advanced reasoning. If all you did was yell, your child would just learn that you're a great yeller. But if you follow those 3 easy steps, he'll get to remember the rules, the reasons for the rules and have the opportunity to practice. See the difference?

3) Ignore your child sometimes: Sometimes ignoring your child is all the discipline he needs. When your child exhibits very minor behavior, sometimes all you have to do is ignore him. What that teaches him is that you will only reward him with your attention when he is following your rules. A great example of this is whining. When you're at the store and your child is nagging you about buying him some candy, simply ignore. Note that sometimes his voice will escalate and he might throw himself on the floor-don't be embarrassed. Stand your ground, don't make eye contact and keep moving. When you do this multiple times he will learn that he cannot always get his way.

But if you buy him the candy he'll learn that all he has to do is scream and throw himself on the floor to get himself some candy-not the message you want to send.

4) Give a logical consequence: And other times you actually have to punish your child. But make sure it's logical. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill. Remember to use age appropriate punishments. So for example, if your child breaks a toy on purpose, the punishment could be taking away another treasured toy, only after explaining why he is being punished this way. Always give your child an opportunity to redeem himself after the punishment is over. This is very essential as you want your child to get as much practice as he can in actually following the rules. Too many parents just go about punishing without actually teaching their children anything. Your role isn't to be the executioner-it's to be the coach, confidante and guide-don't forget that.

So go ahead and try the 4 steps above and comment below to let me know how it goes for you. If you happen to be in the Murrieta area and you are interested in learning more skills to improve your bond with your child and improve parenting skills, give me a call at 951-905-3181 or email me here. 

In my 8-week Toddlers to Tweens parenting skills class in Murrieta, I equip parents with kids ages 2 to 10 on skills that'll help them parent with confidence. It's never too late to learn effective parenting skills.