Taking this time-out can keep you from being reactive, give you time to think, and provide a very powerful model for exercising self-control. It is also a great tool for co-parents to avoid undermining each other and to allow time to come up with a united plan: “Hmm…this is a problem; you want ice cream but it is almost dinner time and that is not growing food. We need a minute to think about how to solve this problem.”
Once you have agreed on a plan, you let your child know what his choices are: “We know you love ice cream and want some now, but that is sweet for after dinner. Now your choices are apple slices or carrots.”
If he throws a big fit, you calmly and lovingly let him know you see he is unhappy about your decision and then moves on. Don’t fear the tantrum! Being responsive is the key to positive parenting.
9. Avoid solving your child’s problems.
It’s a natural, human reaction not to want to see our children struggle. Our knee-jerk response is often to rescue our children or “fix” whatever is causing them distress. (One cry of frustration from my three-year-old challenged by a puzzle resulted in my instantaneous, mom-to-the-rescue response—fitting the pieces in their correct spaces to make him feel all better—setting a pattern of him relying on me to be the fixer for years to come.)
When parents repeatedly solve their children’s problems, they are missing opportunities to help them develop the confidence that they can master new skills.
In helping make it all better so our children won’t feel bad about themselves, we are actually doing the opposite: we send the message that our children are not capable of mastering the challenges they face and that only adults can solve their problems.
Discipline comes from the word disciple, which means to teach a follower or student. It has nothing to do with punishment, which has been shown to have negative long-term consequences for children far into adulthood.
When you approach limit-setting like that favorite teacher you had growing up, who was clear and firm but loving, who didn’t shame you when you made a bad choice but helped you see the consequences of your actions and learn to make good decisions, you give your child a gift that keeps on giving.
Please share these principles for more positive parenting with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful.
Written by: Claire Lerner Pre-order her book coming out 9/2021: Why is My Child in Charge? Originally appeared on: Lerner Child Development Republished with permission