3 Ineffective Discipline Habits That Make Your Kid Anxious

When kids get anxious, they become avoidant instead of learning how to handle situations better in the future.

Discipline is tough. With the number of times kids need correction every day, it’s understandable that parents develop habits that aren’t always thought through. In a flood of snap judgments, chaos management and a desire to regain control of a difficult situation, ineffective and problematic discipline techniques come up. Not only don’t they work, they can make kids confused and anxious. Nobody wins.

“As parents, we have to ask ourselves questions about what outcomes we want when we discipline our kids,” says anxiety therapist Chad Brandt, PhD. “The best scenario is that they come to understand why what they did was wrong so they can learn and practice alternatives.”

Brandt sees several common discipline mistakes from parents, but luckily he has simple tools for reflection and change to help parents get their kids mentally and emotionally engaged. Then, rather than kids walking on eggshells while focusing on not getting caught, they can maximize their growth potential from challenging situations.

Discipline Mistake #1: Physical Discipline

Research continues to demonstrate that spanking and other forms of physical discipline are unhealthy for kids. There’s evidence that physical discipline may change the structure of a child’s brain and that spanking isn’t an effective method for positive behavior change.

Physical discipline can also contribute to a cycle of misbehavior by modeling actions that are likely to land kids in additional trouble if they emulate them. “You’re solving one discipline problem with a solution that you would tell them not to use in any other instance,” Brandt says. In other words, you don’t want your kid to hit their peers when they do something wrong.

And although kids aren’t likely to find any type of discipline fun or pleasant, the anxiety that physical discipline elicits can exacerbate behavioral issues by driving kids to be even more secretive. “When kids experience the physical reaction to pain, they’ll start to hide their behavior from you.

Or they’ll lie or cover things up because they don’t want a spanking,” he says. “You’re not teaching them how to change the behavior. Instead, you’re teaching them how to avoid you.”

Successful discipline teaches kids how to understand why what they did was wrong and appropriate responses for the next time they’re in a similar situation. An engaged child will grow in self-awareness and emotional attunement. But an anxious child will become avoidant.

Want to really help your child engage during the discipline process? Brandt suggests parents show their kids empathy. Walk them through ways they can more appropriately handle similar situations in the future to add layers of positive reinforcement.

“If your child lashes out at a sibling for taking their toy, you can ask what emotion they felt when that happened,” Brandt says. “Then let them know that the next time they feel that emotion, they can either politely ask for the toy back or come get you for help. Then you and your child can practice one or both of those solutions together.”

Discipline Mistake #2: Overly Harsh Discipline

Even parents who don’t ascribe to physical discipline can be overly harsh with their children. When a kid gets put in time-out, for example, it can be tempting to keep them there just a little too long, for any number of reasons. But if the timeout stretches too long, it can become counterproductive.

“Usually, we would say about a minute per year or life with a max of like 10 minutes before it stops being a useful tool,” Brandt says. “There’s a limit to how long kids can process information. And for younger kids, that limit is pretty short. So they might have a timeout and learn for a minute, and then play in their room or sit on the chair and daydream. And that’s something that you don’t want. That defeats the purpose.”

It may be helpful to combine a brief timeout with another appropriate disciplinary action to help kids process their misbehavior. But again, the emphasis is on suitable. Being too extreme pushes the experience past being a learning opportunity and makes it anxiety-producing. Your child ate candy without asking? They don’t get dessert that night. But don’t take away dessert for the whole week.

Discipline Mistake #3: Inconsistent Discipline

“The most important aspect of discipline is being consistent with rules and consequences. In fact, consistency is going to be more important than the specific consequence, especially when kids are younger,” Brandt says.

When rules and expectations are constantly in flux, kids can get anxious even when they’re behaving appropriately. “Parents will put off disciplining their child because of how the child might respond. So the child has free rein to do whatever, until the parent snaps and gets angry,” Brandt says. “For the child, it’s confusing when they get to do whatever they want, until all of the sudden they get yelled at.”

That combination of confusion and fear is a breeding ground for anxiety. In contrast, clarity, closure, and positivity create an environment where kids can learn it’s safe to acknowledge their mistakes and grow from them.

Brandt encourages families to end any disciplinary interaction with a note of optimism as a way for everyone to move on. “We don’t want to stay stuck in that difficult moment where the kid is angry because they feel misunderstood and like they’re labeled as a bad kid,” he says.

“So I’d just end the interaction with, ‘Now we understand what happened, and how we can keep it from happening again in the future. I can’t wait to see you handle that better the next time. You’ll do great.’”

And, hey, don’t be afraid to use some of that positivity and optimism on yourself. Habits can be hard to break. In chaotic parenting moments, it’s easy to slip back into anxiety-provoking discipline methods in an attempt to regain control of the situation. But reflecting on why you reverted to the undesired habit and what you can do differently in the future gives you a chance to handle the chaos better next time. You’ll do great.

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Source: 3 Ineffective Discipline Habits That Make Your Kid Anxious – Fatherly | Fatherly

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Does Having Kids Make You Happy?

1Research has found that having children is terrible for quality of life—but the truth about what parenthood means for happiness is a lot more complicated.

Few choices are more important than whether to have children, and psychologists and other social scientists have worked to figure out what having kids means for happiness. Some of the most prominent scholars in the field have argued that if you want to be happy, it’s best to be childless. Others have pushed back, pointing out that a lot depends on who you are and where you live. But a bigger question is also at play: What if the rewards of having children are different from, and deeper than, happiness?

The early research is decisive: Having kids is bad for quality of life. In one study, the psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues asked about 900 employed women to report, at the end of each day, every one of their activities and how happy they were when they did them. They recalled being with their children as less enjoyable than many other activities, such as watching TV, shopping, or preparing food.

Other studies find that when a child is born, parents experience a decrease in happiness that doesn’t go away for a long time, in addition to a drop in marital satisfaction that doesn’t usually recover until the children leave the house. As the Harvard professor Dan Gilbert puts it, “The only symptom of empty nest syndrome is nonstop smiling.”

After all, having children, particularly when they are young, involves financial struggle, sleep deprivation, and stress. For mothers, there is also in many cases the physical strain of pregnancy and breastfeeding. And children can turn a cheerful and loving romantic partnership into a zero-sum battle over who gets to sleep and work and who doesn’t.

As the Atlantic staff writer Jennifer Senior notes in her book, All Joy and No Fun, children provoke a couple’s most frequent arguments—“more than money, more than work, more than in-laws, more than annoying personal habits, communication styles, leisure activities, commitment issues, bothersome friends, sex.” Someone who doesn’t understand this is welcome to spend a full day with an angry 2-year-old (or a sullen 15-year-old); they’ll find out what she means soon enough.

Read: It isn’t the kids. It’s the cost of raising them.

Children make some happy and others miserable; the rest fall somewhere in between—it depends, among other factors, on how old you are, whether you are a mother or a father, and where you live. But a deep puzzle remains: Many people would have had happier lives and marriages had they chosen not to have kids—yet they still describe parenthood as the “best thing they’ve ever done.” Why don’t we regret having children more?

One possibility is a phenomenon called memory distortion. When we think about our past experiences, we tend to remember the peaks and forget the mundane awfulness in between. Senior frames it like this: “Our experiencing selves tell researchers that we prefer doing the dishes—or napping, or shopping, or answering emails—to spending time with our kids … But our remembering selves tell researchers that no one—and nothing—provides us with so much joy as our children.

It may not be the happiness we live day to day, but it’s the happiness we think about, the happiness we summon and remember, the stuff that makes up our life-tales.” These are plausible-enough ideas, and I don’t reject them. But other theories about why people don’t regret parenthood actually have nothing to do with happiness—at least not in a simple sense.

One involves attachment. Most parents love their children, and it would seem terrible to admit that you would be better off if someone you loved didn’t exist. More than that, you genuinely prefer a world with your kids in it. This can put parents in the interesting predicament of desiring a state that doesn’t make them as happy as the alternative. In his book Midlife, the MIT professor Kieran Setiya expands on this point.

Modifying an example from the philosopher Derek Parfit, he asks readers to imagine a situation in which, if you and your partner were to conceive a child before a certain time, the child would have a serious, though not fatal, medical problem, such as chronic joint pain. If you wait, the child will be healthy. For whatever reason, you choose not to wait. You love your child and, though he suffers, he is happy to be alive. Do you regret your decision?

Read: How adult children affect their mother’s happiness

That’s a complicated question. Of course it would have been easier to have a kid without this condition. But if you’d waited, you’d have a different child, and this baby (then boy, then man) whom you love wouldn’t exist. It was a mistake, yes, but perhaps a mistake that you don’t regret. The attachment we have to an individual can supersede an overall decrease in our quality of life, and so the love we usually have toward our children means that our choice to bring them into existence has value above and beyond whatever effect they have on our happiness.

This relates to a second point, which is that there’s more to life than happiness. When I say that raising my sons is the best thing I’ve ever done, I’m not saying that they gave me pleasure in any simple day-to-day sense, and I’m not saying that they were good for my marriage. I’m talking about something deeper, having to do with satisfaction, purpose, and meaning. It’s not just me.

When you ask people about their life’s meaning and purpose, parents say that their lives have more meaning than those of nonparents. A study by the social psychologist Roy Baumeister and his colleagues found that the more time people spent taking care of children, the more meaningful they said their life was—even though they reported that their life was no happier.

Raising children, then, has an uncertain connection to pleasure but may connect to other aspects of a life well lived, satisfying our hunger for attachment, and for meaning and purpose. The writer Zadie Smith puts it better than I ever could, describing having a child as a “strange admixture of terror, pain, and delight.” Smith, echoing the thoughts of everyone else who has seriously considered these issues, points out the risk of close attachments:

“Isn’t it bad enough that the beloved, with whom you have experienced genuine joy, will eventually be lost to you? Why add to this nightmare the child, whose loss, if it ever happened, would mean nothing less than your total annihilation?” But this annihilation reflects the extraordinary value of such attachments; as the author Julian Barnes writes of grief, quoting a friend, “It hurts just as much as it is worth.”

By Paul Bloom

Source: Does Having Kids Make You Happy? – The Atlantic

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More Contents:

. “A review of the relationship among parenting practices, parenting styles, and adolescent school achievement” (PDF). Educational Psychology Review. 17

 “Parenting Style as a Moderator of Associations Between Maternal Disciplinary Strategies and Child Well-Being”

“The Influence of Parenting Style on Academic Achievement and Career Path”Day, Nicholas (10 April 2013). “Parental ethnotheories and how parents in America differ from parents everywhere else”. Slate. Retrieved 19 April 2013.[verification needed]

“The Terrible Twos Explained – Safe Kids (UK)”Kenneth R. Ginsburg. “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds” (PDF). American Academy of Pediatrics. Archived from the origina

How Cultural Forces Shape Parenting Around the World

So much parenting advice focuses on the slog of the early years: How to manage sleep, feeding, tantrums, and the like. And while much of these efforts are in service of a long-term goal—raising an adult human you can be proud of—there’s much less out there that addresses life with that human as they come into their own.

Novelist Yang Huang explores that space in her latest book, My Good Son, allowing the reader to observe how parenting has shaped father and son, especially as some of the more complex, even morally questionable questions arise in the son’s burgeoning adulthood. Add in the setting—post-Tiananmen China—and a cleverly-positioned American father-son relationship to serve as the foil, and it’s a loving and intricate study of what it means to be a good Chinese parent.

Here, Huang turns her gaze to how different cultures approach the measure of being a “good parent,” sharing her research on how geography and traditions inform the many ways families grow and thrive. She explains:

“Although all of my fiction talks about parenting from both the parents’ and children’s perspectives, I have not read a book on parenting before! Finding parenting stories around the world opens my eyes and also affirms my values in many ways.”

A Lost Secret: How to Get Kids to Pay Attention

Yang Huang: “Don’t just blame a child’s short attention span on video games. Perhaps we can learn from Maya parenting—they motivate children to pay attention by giving them autonomy. When a child is setting the goal, they also learn to manage their own attention, rather than relying on adults to tell them what to do.”

I Spent 7 Years Studying Dutch Parenting—Here Are 6 Secrets to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World

YH: “Dutch parents raise the happiest children, in no small part helped by the government policies. Still, there are many things Americans can learn from, such as the family eating breakfast together, and children biking in all weathers. The Dutch have high ambitions for their children and see happiness as a means to success, the gateway to self-awareness, intrinsic motivation, independence, and positive ties with their communities.”

The Peril of Surplus Safety: Giving Kids Room to Become Adults [WATCH]

YH: “Children are drawn to things that we adults fear. We want to protect them and childproof their lives away. But does it work? People in Norway, Japan, and many other cultures, believe that the greatest safety precaution you can give a child is to let them take risks, so they can hone their judgement about what is safe and what is not, physically, emotionally, and socially.”

L’éducation “à la Française” [WATCH]

YH: “Here, an American journalist and mother speaks about what she learned from French parenting. (She’s speaking French, but the subtitles are in English.) She appeals to a French audience without pandering to them, and admits that American parenting aims to speed up the stages of our children’s development, calling it ‘a giant race from the cradle.’ Fortunately, she learns to parent with conventional French wisdom, which she summarizes into eight phrases: Hello, wait, be wise, you have to try it, balance, autonomy, it’s my decision, and poop sausage. Simple, right? Hear how she interprets them with glee and humility.”

Toilet Training at 2 Is Normal in U.S. But Very Late in China and Other Countries

YH: “Toilet training is a milestone in child-rearing. Compare the practices in first vs. third world countries, and gain a sobering perspective on nature vs. nurture, economics, and politics.”

A Chinese-Canadian to His Parents: ‘Privately, I Yearned for Your Love’

YH: “Before becoming Marvel’s first Asian superhero, Canadian actor Simu Liu had a childhood strikingly similar to mine, although we are not the same generation and grew up in different continents. His teenage angst mirrors my character Feng in my novel My Good Son. In broad strokes, Liu tells a timeless Chinese parenting story where a child learns to transform their anger and resentment into understanding and admiration for their parents. And that is a superhero feat.”

Letter From Africa: Parenting Culture Clash

YH: “In Ghana, children are taught to call an elder person with a title of respect like uncle or auntie. A teenager can enjoy being coddled, while their parents make the big decisions for them. What an indulgence! But with a price. It is similar in China, which led me to explore a clash of generations in My Good Son.”

What American Parents Can Learn From Chinese Philosophy

YH: “More Christine Gross-Loh here, this time about how kids relate to each other and the world. The Chinese philosophers saw the world as one of endless, shifting relationships—we have influence over the trajectory of our lives when we focus on learning how to relate well to others. Caring for one another is hard, albeit rewarding work. This is not just how our children will become better people and live better lives—it is how they can create a better world.”

Motherhood Around the World

YH: “This series on Cup of Jo features firsthand accounts of Americans parenting abroad as well as locals sharing how their home country approaches different aspects of raising children. I especially liked reading how one South African mother raises her mixed-raced child to be trilingual and specifically not colorblind in a culturally diverse environment with a wide socioeconomic gap. Also, this Colorado mom, now in Jordan, who shares her experience getting to know local Muslim women and their approach to food, soothing babies, and friendship.”

By: Yang Huang

Source: How Cultural Forces Shape Parenting Around the World

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