My parent’s don’t approve of the way I discipline my children. They think I am too easy on them. What do I do?

There are many different ways moms approach discipline with their kids. Dr. Kimberley has some tips for anyone questioning the best method for keeping your kids accountable and what that might look like for different kinds of parents.

By Dr. Kimberley Bennett

Advice

Parenting

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about the doc

Dr. Kimberley Bennett has a Doctorate in Child, Adolescent and Educational Psychology.  She has been a Registered Psychologist for 10 years. When not at her practice, she is a mother to two beautiful children. Her eldest was the inspiration behind The Psychologist’s Child. Becoming a mother taught her more than any of her professional trainings to date. Her highly sensitive son guided her down the gentle parenting path which has aligned so seamlessly with the theory and research that she studied and practiced throughout her Psychology career.

Dr. Bennett has a particular interest in Child Development, Attachment Theory, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Infant Mental Health, Positive & Gentle parenting.

 

You can find more of Dr. Bennett’s work on her website www.thepsychologistschild.com

I was raised in a fairly strict home with a lot of boundaries.  Recently, when my parents come over to visit, they say my children don’t have enough discipline in their lives.  I feel like I have tried but if I disciplined them on every little thing there would be nothing but arguing and negativity in my home.  How can I effectively discipline my 4- and 6-year-old children and give them structure without calling them out on their behavior all the time.

This is a big question that, for me, boils down to parenting styles. Parenting styles can be classified into four main types:

  • Permissive
  • Authoritative
  • Authoritarian
  • Uninvolved

I won’t go into the details of each style within my answer, but essentially, each style takes a different approach to raising children. Differences with regards levels of nurture, and differences with regards levels of structure and boundaries. Authoritarian approaches tend to focus on obedience, and it sounds as though this is perhaps the style of parenting you grew up with as a child. Contrasting this style is the Permissive style, where parents don’t tend to enforce rules at all; they lack structure. We want to aim to strike a balance here. A style which is high in structure, and high in nurture. There is so much research that this Authoritative Parenting style is associated with the best outcomes for children. Authoritative parenting involves setting limits and enforcing rules in a way that is respectful to your child.

And, I think when parenting children it is helpful to remember this phrase,

“Big pastures, real fences”

Children absolutely need boundaries. But when we find ourselves in continual negative cycles of interactions with anyone… that begins to have a really negative effect on everyone. Children need big pastures. They need freedom to make mistakes, to explore, to learn through natural consequences. And, they need those real fences, too. They need to know that some behaviors are unacceptable, that some rules are non-negotiable. And, for me, that is how we avoid those cycles of constant conflict, while ensuring our style of parenting lands on Authoritarian and not Permissive. I hope that helps.

 

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