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10 Unhealthy Reasons Why Parents Avoid Disciplining Children

Why You Shouldn’t Let these Reasons Get in the Way of Healthy Child Discipline


Mother sitting with son (9-11) on decking
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Disciplining children is hard work. It requires constant vigilance, consistency and thought-provoking effort. It’s no wonder that parents don’t always discipline their children.

Although a lack of discipline is a way of life for permissive parents, for most parents it is just an occasional occurrence. If you’ve been known to let a few behaviors slide sometimes, take a look at the underlying reasons why and the consequences it can have on your child’s development and behavior.

1. “I feel sorry for him. He’s been under a lot of stress lately.”

Parents sometimes feel guilty when kids have had to endure rough times, such as a divorce or being bullied at school. It’s natural to feel bad, after all, who wants to see their child hurt? However, allowing misbehavior to slide isn’t the solution. In fact, stressed out kids often need discipline more than ever to help them feel assured that you’re able to keep them safe by setting limits.

2. “He didn’t mean to do that.”

Kids shouldn’t be disciplined for accidentally spilling a glass of milk, but they can take responsibility for their actions by helping to clean it up. Allowing too much leeway because something was an “accident” can prevent kids from taking responsibility for their behavior. If you decide, “He didn’t really mean to push his brother that hard,” and excuse it, he’s likely to learn he can talk his way out of things by using the “It was an accident” excuse.

3. “I haven’t spent much time with them lately.”

Allowing your child to misbehave because you feel guilty won’t do either one of you any good. If you feel bad, look for other ways to resolve your guilt about discipline. For example, do you need to do something differently, like create more time to spend together? Or do you need to remind yourself that it is good for your child to have healthy discipline?

4. “I was too hard on him yesterday.”

If you offered up some harsh discipline earlier, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discipline him now. It’s essential that you’re consistent with discipline, other ways your child will be very confused about your expectations. Develop a behavior plan to help you stick to your discipline.

5. “Kids will be kids.”

There is certainly such a thing as normal misbehavior. However, it’s important to distinguish between normal and abnormal child behavior problems. Allowing kids to get away with misbehavior by chalking it up to “normal kid stuff” can be detrimental if you’re letting your child get away with too many behaviors.

6. “I don’t want him to be upset.”

It can be tempting sometimes to look the other way when you’re child’s having a good time and you know placing him in time out will upset him. However, teaching children to deal with negative feelings is one of the six life skills your discipline should be teaching. You’ll be doing him a disservice by not helping him learn how to regulate his emotions.

7. “I’m too tired to deal with it.”

There will be days that you just feel too exhausted or drained to give out one more negative consequence. However, it’s important to muster up the energy to offer consistent discipline. Otherwise, it can make behavior problems worse, which can make you feel even more tired. Devote extra time and energy into behavior problems now and it’ll reduce the effort needed down the road.

8. “He won’t listen anyway.”

A lack of confidence in parenting can be a big problem that prevents people from disciplining because their afraid their child won’t go to time out or won’t listen when privileges are taken away. If consequences aren’t effective, examine the reasons why you’re discipline isn’t working. Avoiding discipline will only make the problem worse and it’s essential that you gain the parenting skills necessary to discipline effectively.

9. “He’ll think I’m mean.”

One of the four biggest parenting mistakes is only looking at the short-term. In the short-term, your child might think you’re mean for taking away his toy or not letting him play outside. However, in the long-term, it’s the best thing for him and is essential to helping him learn. Sometimes having your child angry with you means you’re doing your job well.

10. “I always have to be the bad guy.”

If you’ve got a partner who lets your child get away with behavior problems, it’s likely you’ll feel like the bad guy when you lay down the law. Learn how to discipline together with your partner so your child doesn’t view one of you as the “bad guy.” Establish household rules and work together to enforce these rules consistently.

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