What do your children expect of you when you get home from work? You want to bring discipline without making them live in fear of you
Ring any bells?
Did your mother say that to you in a ‘desperate-threatening’ type of way? When?
Why? And what actually happened? What did your father do?
Do you have any idea what they expect you to do ‘when you get home?’
Do you want your children to spend their days fearing the sound of your approaching footsteps?
When you were growing up:
• Who set the boundaries or made the rules in your family?
• Who enforced the boundaries or rules in your family?
• What happened when you crossed the boundaries or broke the rules?
• Who gave out the punishments?
• Were the adults consistent and reliable?
• Were all children treated fairly?
Concerning setting boundaries there are four basic options:
1. No boundaries
Do what you like! Please yourself! Anything goes!
2. Constraining boundaries
Lots of rules and severe punishments when they’re broken. ‘Breathe or move out of place and you’re in trouble’
3. Inconsistent boundaries
A mixture of 1 and 2. One day indulgent or neglectful, the next strict, today you get into trouble for doing that but tomorrow it may be OK. Sometimes I’ll tell you off, sometimes I won’t. Depends how I feel, depends who’s around, depends where we are, depends… just depends….
4. Clear, fair and consistent boundaries
Children know what is acceptable and what is not and understand why. Parents consistently reinforce boundaries in a firm, fair way. There is room for children to explore and grow but within a safe and secure environment.
Here are some questions to help you find your own answer!
• What kind of family are you building?
• What do you want your home to feel like?
• What’s important to you?
• What are your values?
• What do you hope to achieve?
• What mistakes do you want to avoid?
A word to the wise: Since all of us, and children in particular, crave attention, sometimes we do things just to get noticed.
If you pay attention to undesirable behaviour for instance make a big fuss when a child uses a swear word, or laugh when they put something down the toilet, or jump up and down in a rage when they scribble on the wallpaper the chances are they may use any of those behaviours against you in order to get more of your attention. To a child any attention, even if it is angry and cross, is better than no attention at all.
If you make a big deal when your children do the things you want them to… they’ll do them all the more. Praise! Praise! Praise! It really works wonders. Conversely if you make a big deal of things you don’t want them to do they’ll do those things all the more too.
Some children are easier to praise than others. Don’t keep your praise just for achievements at school. Praise them for personal character traits.
Do you find the transition between work and home a struggle – if so what strategies have you in place to deal with it? I once heard someone talk about how too many dads, himself included, develop a ‘slipper’ mentality.
They get in from work and either literally or psychologically (or both), put their slippers on. They think ‘that’s it. I’ve done a days work, now I can switch off!’
Meanwhile the children, who strangely enough, love you no matter what, crave your attention. Your partner, if you have one, has spent the last hour watching the clock, longing for the moment you would arrive, and take some of the pressure off or at least share the load until bedtime when at last, exhausted, you can both get a moments peace!
So Dads, when you come home from work you’re not off duty – the next few hours are crucial to the success and health of your family – what do YOU want them to be like?
How do you want your children to feel about your anticipated arrival home?