As parents, nothing is more rewarding than seeing our kids happy and having a great relationship with them. Perhaps, this is why laying down the rules and enforcing them can sometimes feel so difficult. After all, it sucks having to be the villain. No one likes to be the one doling out discipline.
But in fact, the importance of discipline cannot be overstated. While you might want to avoid being tough on your children because you would feel guilty or want to stave off a tantrum, in the long run, you wouldn’t be doing them any favors. Lack of discipline can lead to negative consequences later in life, including behavioral and emotional problems.
On the other hand, setting limits and boundaries for your child can benefit them greatly in the future. It is also important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to discipline; every kid is different and determining your approach will depend on your understanding of your child. Ultimately, the goal is to keep our children safe, but there are many other ways they can flourish and thrive from having rules—as well as parents who enforce them.
With effective and consistent discipline, children can learn about consequences and take responsibility for their own actions. Furthermore, it teaches what is appropriate and what is not, emphasizing the importance of controlling impulses and negative emotions like anger. Parents should also avoid confusing discipline with punishment, focusing instead on using fair and appropriate means of correcting behavior. Praise and encouragement can be essential elements of discipline, for example, teaching kids that behavior management need not be a negative experience, giving them another perspective on how to deal with their feelings.
While it’s tempting to think of discipline as a means of control, it may be more productive to view it as a way of teaching your child self-control. Related to this is the concept of self-monitoring. Once kids understand what is expected of them, they can weigh the pros and cons of different situations themselves and make their own informed decisions. After all, you as their mom or dad can’t be with them all the time. At some point, you’ll need to be able to trust that they can behave themselves, even—or especially—when you’re not around.
Not only can discipline help your kids stay physically safe, but it can encourage them to stay healthy as well. Setting boundaries in early childhood can instill in them all kinds of important life lessons, from knowing why they should always look both ways before they cross the street to why they should eat healthy and exercise regularly. This is also why discipline should always come with plenty of explanation, since children would be less likely to flout the rules when they are aware how certain actions can potentially harm them.
Thus, few aspects of parenting are as vital as discipline. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be our kids’ best friends, but we must also do right by them by raising them to become responsible and well-adjusted adults. Bottom line, children are children. They are young, but they are growing, learning, and constantly testing their limits. This is why they need guidance to know what is right and what is wrong, and as parents, we have the honor and privilege of being their first teachers in this and everything else.