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The Two Biggest Mistakes Parents Make in Discipling Their Children

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Too Much Talk

We talk too much because we have a basic unreasonable belief: our kids just need more information. We assume they are basically good and would do the right thing if they knew better. We probably don’t think this consciously, but it is a deep seated belief. So we talk, talk, talk. We try to persuade them through logic, persuasion, and reason.

The truth is they probably have all the information they need. What they are missing is the self-control and personal discipline to perform what they know.

So why do we parents talk too much? … because talk is easier than training. Training children to be responsible for their behavior takes time, energy and dedication. Not only that but parenting doesn’t come with a handbook, so many parents do not have the knowledge necessary to train their children. So we talk and hope our kids get it. We talk and we talk and we talk.

Too Much Emotion

The other mistake is showing too much emotion. When you feel positive toward your child you cannot show too much emotion, but when kids are young they have a natural tendency to feel inferior, because they are smaller, less intelligent, less privileged, and less skillful.

Children can respond to this feeling of inferiority in at least two ways.

  1. When we show inappropriate anger, frustration, and disapproval the inferiority can be confirmed for some. These children grow up to feel inadequate, depressed, and with-drawn.; Their whole life is directed toward either trying to feel adequate or just giving up.

  2. The other possible response is to feel a sense of power when the parent goes emotionally out-of-control. Some kids feel a sense of power when their behavior causes a parent such emotional trauma, and this power can be invigorating and eliminate that feeling of inferiority. These kids can grow up to become manipulative and controlling.

Either way, showing too much negative emotion is bad for your kids.

What’s a Parent to Do?

To talk less and maintain control of your emotions try this: when your child misbehaves look at your child and say “That’s One.” Give you child a reasonable amount of time (2 to 20 seconds depending on the situation). If your child persists say, “That’s two.” Wait again for the same amount of time and if they persist say “That’s three take five,” meaning take a five minute timeout (or the time appropriate for the age of the child).

The magic in this technique is that you do not use any words or emotions. There is not judging, just a respect of their intelligence and an expectation to live up to what they know ... to be responsible for their behavior. When we expect our children to take responsibility for their behavior it will be a major step toward raising a responsible child .. adult.

These concepts are taken from Thomas Phelan’s book 1-2-3- Magic.

Want to learn more? Give us a call or make an appointment with one of our qualified therapists today!

Larry McElvain, Founder, Discovery Counseling Center

November 11, 2019


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