Most parents want to protect their children from pain but there are times when their efforts are actually a mistake. When children suffer because of their own behavior you may need to step aside. Kids need to learn that choices have consequences, sometimes hard ones, and the earlier they learn this, the better. From the day your child is born they start to learn things and take in the world. They don’t quite understand a lot of it yet but before you know it they are pushing limits to see how far they can go. Some are smarter then they let on at young ages. Maybe they pretend they don’t understand what you are saying when you tell them no, and shake your finger at them in a stern voice. But if you tell them they won’t get dessert if they don’t stop, they suddenly stop. That’s when you know they might be trying to outsmart you. Then when an older child takes something from a sibling without permission but says they were just borrowing it they are usually old enough to know that isn’t acceptable.
It’s true that many parenting techniques are much easier said than done and this is no exception. Do your best to stick to your guns and stay consistent. If your child knows it’s not okay to do something and has been warned to no avail then it’s time for the next step of showing them there are consequences. Be clear with what is expected of them, teach them what the rules are, and what will happen if the rules are broken. If you tell them something and they directly disobey. Set the first step in motion that you warned of. An example of something to tell your 8 year old would be that they get no T.V. time or they can’t have their friend over. These consequences change through the years to things that suit their current ages. If you don’t enforce the rule then they know they can get away with a lot because they don’t believe you when you warn them of things.
As parents our instinct is to help our kids pick up the pieces when they’re in trouble, but it’s important to remember the long term goals of parenting. These goals include preparing your children to be adults, employees, spouses and parents themselves. A child who makes a habit of messing up may require some tuff love. Sometimes that means learning lessons the hard way. A lesson some parents need to learn is, that we are really hurting our kids if we’re constantly cleaning up their messes. Self-centeredness, immaturity and lack of responsibility are just some of the negative traits children develop if mom and dad always come to their rescue. Administering a dose of tough love can be challenging. It goes against our instinct to nurture and protect our kids but if needed you can always seek support from other parents, family members or even a counsellor. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is let your child face the consequences.