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How many rules does a child need? How much control should a parent have?
These are questions that divide the parenting arena. As we have written previously, it is good to be neither an authoritarian, nor a permissive parent. But how do we get a good balance?
Some tips that may be useful are:
1. Be a communicative parent
These parents both talk and listen to their children. They acknowledge their children and see them as a valuable addition to the family – a part of the family team. They ask questions such as “How was your day?” and “What is going on for you?” and say “Tell me about….”
2. Do not live your life through your children
Every parent wants their child to be successful but be careful not to expect your child to become what you were not able to achieve either through lack of opportunity or lack of ability. We should never transfer our dreams onto our children. Children will pick this up and if they do not reach the expectation they will see themselves as a failure and a disappointment to their parents. It is not good for a child to feel they can never reach their parents expectations – that they are never ‘good enough’.
3. Educate and influence your children
Use the strength of your relationship to influence their choices in the right way rather than constantly imposing rules and regulations.
Instead of telling your child not to do something, encourage them to understand the consequences of their actions. (This is only possible for older children who can understand consequences.) Ask questions like, “What will happen if you do…?” and comment, “That did not work out well; what could you do next time?”.
4. Elevate the virtue above the vice.
Verbally point your kids in the direction you want them to go. Instead of saying, “Stop hitting your brother!” try, “Tell me one way you can be nice to your brother.” After you get an answer, ask if he/she is willing to do what they came up with at that moment in time. Pointing them to the good is to get into the habit of saying the opposite of the negative.