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Do You Control Or Guide Your Child?

4 min read

How many times have you seen an incredibly well behaved child and thought to yourself how the parents have brought him/her up?
On the same note, how many times have you seen an explicitly rude and misbehaving child and immediately thought to yourself the parent should do a better job of disciplining that unruly kid?

Although all of us know that every child has a unique personality by nature, the significance of “nurture” in shaping that personality in a positive way cannot be emphasized enough. While it is not right to “judge” the parenting style or the parents– because right and wrong are after all subjective – parents have a big role in disciplining their children. And predominantly, there are two ways of doing this:

  1. Controlling, which refers to parents trying to control the behavior, words, and even feelings and thoughts of their children in a way the parents think is right
  2. Guiding, which refers to parents trying to encourage the child to put up his/her best self through guidance
    Now, just by these definitions, it is clear that “guiding” definitely sounds better than “controlling”. However, the truth is that many of us, many at times, resort to controlling!

Why Do Most Parents Tend To Control Their Kids?

If you do control your child, then you are not alone. For most parents, this is the most natural way of shaping up the child’s personality. This is because most of us feel that at some level, who our kids turn out to be is a reflection on us. We feel that their personality, thoughts, actions, feelings and overall success depend on us. This puts a lot of pressure on us to ensure that our kids grow up in a good way. And in turn, we put pressure on our kids to think, behave and feel in a certain way – a way which we as parent think is right.

Why Is Controlling Not The Right Way To Discipline A Child?

So controlling involves forcing our “rights” and “wrongs” on our kids. Now the problem here is that we are not always right. And there is not always “one” right. Just because we believe that something is supposed to be done in a certain way, that does not mean that it is the best way, or it is the only way to do it. So, when you force your child to do something in one way, you are curbing his natural instinct to do it in his own way. This results in defiance in kids as it can be very frustrating to be always told to behave in a certain way. And it can be very stressful for you because you become very reactive – continuously trying to “correct” your child.
Controlling a child

How To Guide Your Child Without Controlling?

  • Do not spank: ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ is really the mantra of past. Research clearly indicates that spanking your child will definitely not give you the results you want and most often does the exact opposite. For more discussion on why spanking is not good, and how you can discipline your child without spanking, read Discipline Without Spanking – It Is Not ‘Okay’ To Hit Your Child
  • Respond. Not React: One of the most important aspects of “guiding” a child is being calm. You need to control your emotions, be calm and respond to a situation at hand in a mature and effective way, rather than resort to knee-jerk reactions. For instance, if your teenager talks to you rudely, you have an option to calmly ask him/her what is bothering her. Being rude back is not the right way, and it conveys the wrong message, and no good will come out of it
  • Respect: It is important to realize that your child is not you. You cannot expect him to behave the same way as you do. He has his own temperament and personality. To guide your child, you need to first respect his thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions. You need to listen and show respect to what he has to say about why he behaved in a certain way. You need to understand and accept the fact that he is a individual, and all individuals command respect
  • Empathize: You have been a child too! You can at some level understand the rebellious thoughts and actions of your child. During such a rebellious and aggressive phase, reasoning or lecturing might not work. Show understanding, empathy and compassion. Just be with the child, and take things into account being into his shoes. Do not think as an adult, think like him
  • Support. Do not hover: Make your child accountable for his or her actions. When you feel accountable, it does not make the child learn anything. Instead of hovering around your child 24×7 trying to get something done (read about Helicopter Parenting), it is better to be a support and let the child learn by himself or herself. Take the example of gardening. It is best to teach your child about basics of gardening and give the responsibility of a set of plants to the child. He/she has to water it and take care of it. You are there if any questions or doubts arise. This works much better than you breathing down your child’s next saying “no, not that way. Do it this way” when he/she is gardening
  • Do control in certain situations: If your child runs on the road or hits some other kid, you can and should control them and set limit. What is important is how you do this. When you do it with empathy and love, then the chances of them understanding the limits are much higher

Happy parenting!

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