Dads and Discipline

For anyone raising young boys, I’m sure that you can relate to the craziness that can arise at any given moment in your household. Punching, kicking, hitting, yelling, farting, crying, blaming, and shouting are just a few of the observable behaviors that I witness daily. It certainly can become taxing on any parent and lead to our own ugly behaviors in response to their actions. It’s only human that we as parents slip every now and then in disciplining our kids due to what’s going on in our own lives. And boys can be especially challenging, because well…they’re boys.

We have two young rambunctious, funny and smart boys. Tru is 9 ½ and Cruz is 6 years old. As with most siblings, they have a love hate relationship. They fight and then love. Fight and then laugh. Fight and then play together. Fight and then share a treat. My wife sometimes doesn’t quite “get” why they like to jump off things, play football, basketball, and soccer in the house, or just wrestle at the drop of a dime. But fortunately I do understand and my response to her is …”Baby, they’re just being boys.”

We allow them to be who they are, but discipline is major when it comes to managing their behavior. Often, parents compliment us on how the boys behave, especially when we’re dining out. I hear comments like, “Your boys are so well mannered. I could never get my kids to sit still like that at a restaurant”. Well, I truly disagree with that, because as a parent, you have every opportunity help your kids behave in a manner that is acceptable to you. But, you must be willing to put in the work. And it is work!

When it comes to getting your kids to behave NOT so badly follow my 5 rules.

  1. Start Early – First, it starts at home. Many child experts have different ideas on when to start explaining to your kid what is good and what is not so good behavior. You would need to make that decision yourself, but don’t be afraid to start showing some form of discipline when your kids are young. Things as simple as picking up and putting toys away, helping to load or unload the dishwasher, sitting and eating properly at the dinner table, or even helping to make up their bed is a good start.
  2. Expectations – This is important because kids won’t know how they’re supposed to behave unless you tell them. Set clear expectations when it comes to what you want to see. As an example, my boys know exactly what they must do when they wake up in the morning; Make their beds, brush their teeth, comb their hair, and get their back packs ready for school. At the dinner table they know that they must sit properly on their bottoms and ask to be excused once they’re finished eating. They’re not always 100% compliant and often need to be reminded, but for the most part they usually meet and sometimes exceed our expectations.
  3. Consequences – This is self-explanatory, but some parents have a hard time setting consequences for their kid’s actions. You can’t have discipline without consequences. Consequences should also be something that will make the kid think twice about not behaving properly again. Every child is different, so ultimately only you know what your kid will respond to. Taking away something meaningful to them gets their attention, but it should be significant. Sometimes I give my boys options on what the consequences of their behavior should be. It allows them to own what they’ve done and accept what is being handed down as a result.
  4. Follow Through – This may be the most important rule when it comes to discipline. You must follow through on what you expect from your kids. Kids are very smart and will start to realize that they can get away with bad behavior without consequences. On the other hand, when your actions mirror your words, expect to see changed and better behavior from your children.
  5. Consistency – As you know parenting is not a part-time job, therefore you need to be as consistent as possible when it comes to discipline. I’m constantly reinforcing my expectations to my boys on a daily, sometimes hourly basis and I often ask them to repeat to me what is expected when they fell short on something. I like to hold them accountable for actions that are not so desirable, but also make sure to reward them for good behavior. Once your kids buy-in to what you’re asking them to do, consistency in disciplining could help make parenting a little easier and more enjoyable,. My goal as a dad is to help my boys develop good habits that will only get better as they grow older.

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