I find that, in general, parents are indulging their children more now than ever, and when it comes to disciplining their toddler, they neglect to follow through. For various reasons, they seem to find it difficult to say no to their child, even though they know they should. This behavior sets a bad precedent because it will make discipline even more difficult as the children get older, when he may encounter more dangerous situations.
Children need rules and structure and they must know that there are limits for their own well-being. Parents must teach their children these rules, and then they need to enforce them. As a parent, you are responsible for your children’s safety, and it is your job to teach them how to be able to function cooperatively in society.
Some parents can’t say no because they want to be best friends with their child and don’t want their little one to be angry or disappointed. One such mother recognized that she should put her foot down more often, but worked to avoid these situations instead of addressing them. So, when we were selling pretzels in the school lobby as a fundraiser, this mother felt obligated to buy her son a pretzel every day after school.
“I object to your selling pretzels,” she told the fundraiser coordinator. “My kid comes out every day and wants a pretzel. I say no, but he carries on and I have to buy him one. Then he’s not hungry for lunch.”
Needless to say, her protests fell on deaf ears. It would have been a far greater lesson for her son had she told him that just because the pretzels are there, it doesn’t mean they have to buy one. It is almost lunch time and if he eats a big pretzel now, he won’t be hungry for lunch. As a special treat, she’ll buy him a pretzel on Friday, as a reward for being a good boy all week and not asking for a pretzel every day.
You can say no to your child and still have him love and respect you. You are his parent, not his best friend. Learning to discipline your child when he is very young, and understanding the importance of following through on a punishment, will serve you and your child well throughout his life.
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