Children without limits are insecure and afraid, and not able to verbalize these emotions. So they act out, being defiant or rebellious, to push their parents to see if the parent will respond. Limits are walls of security to a child. She wants to explore her world, but also wants to understand how far to go, and know that if she goes too far, her parents will be there to rescue her.
When parents exercise consistent discipline and limits, children perceive this as a safety net. Parents who are responsive, (interested) in their kids build emotional trust. Kids need to know that their parents are there for them. After birth, children look to their parents to meet all of their needs.
There is a hierarchy, or structure, of needs necessary for physical and mental growth.
- Physical: basic food and shelter
- Safety: Children need to feel safe and secure to develop properly
- Needs of love, affection and belonging
- Need for self-esteem
- Need for self-actualization, or self-awareness of one’s talents and abilities.
Think of these as steps to reaching self-actualization. The first step is the basic needs, the next safety and so on. Parents who are concerned about the freedom and self-actualization of their child are putting the cart before the horse. Each need must be met and learned, before the next step can successfully occur.
Behaviors that block the steps
- Nagging and yelling rarely work for discipline and teaching. Most children come to understand the parent has a bark but no bite, and simply tune the parent out. Sensitive children become afraid and insecure. Eventually, the sensitive child will become rebellious, a reaction to the constant state of fear.
- Praising a child is very effective is developing a close bond, and building self esteem and courage in the kid. However, excessive, nonspecific praise does little. The child cannot relate the nonspecific praise to anything he has done.
- Spanking is effective when it is mild and action specific. A simple spank can emphasis ‘NO’ and reinforce the parental limit. Harsh physical punishment destroys the child’s ability to process the punishment as action specific. A child becomes fearful of his parent, and begins to isolate himself. He learns only that the parent is not safe.
- Punishment needs to fit the ‘crime’. The younger the child, the shorter the time span should be for time-outs or loss of privilege. For teens, privileges can be limited for a day or two, but longer than this will only lead to more rebellion.
For the best effect, parents should communicate clearly and often with their children. Communication is verbal and non verbal. Touch is essential.
Parenting Classes in St Louis
Raising Teens for Dummies
Parenting Styles, Parenting Effects
Parenting styles affect how teens behave
Parenting – Non-Involved
Parenting – Permissive
Parenting – Authoritarian
Parenting – Authoritative (The Best)