Have you ever wondered if you’re a bit too strict with your child? Do you have extremely high expectations and get angry if your child doesn’t reach the expected goals? Do you have strict consequences and harsh punishments?
Here are ten signs that you may be too tough on your child:
1. Zero Tolerance Policy
Does your child get punished immediately after breaking a rule? Is it a big offence or is it mild in the grand scale of things? While it is extremely important to have rules and set down boundaries, it is equally as important to recognise that there can be some exceptions. You need to evaluate what your child has done and think of a consequence which is relatable to the actions. For example if your child doesn’t tidy up their toys right away, you might say “Right thats it! No more playing for the rest of the day!”. While most parents are guilty for making an over the top threat once in a while, strict parents tend to make these threats regularly. Instead of this, you need to give a consequence that is in context and related to disciplining and not punishing. So you can give a consequence but don’t go over the top. For example you could say “Right ‘Annie’, if your barbies are not put away before lunch time, then you will not be allowed to play with the train track after lunch” – This way your child has been given the rules, the consequence and has a choice to make. If they don’t want to follow the rules after being given the option then you follow through with this consequence. They will learn to follow the rules because they know that if they choose the alternative option, they won’t get what they want. You are basically putting the ball in their court. If you have a zero tolerance policy on anything and everything, then your child doesn’t learn about choice and problem solving. They just get frustrated and angry which can often lead to a second issue where you will again have to discipline. It can then spiral into a battle with your child. They are angry as they are always being punished and you are angry as you are always punishing. Children like to test boundaries, it is natural. Keep the rules and consequences but don’t over react for every issue. Like a child, it is good to “pick your battles”.
2. Your child lies too much
It is totally normal for a child to exaggerate and stretch the truth sometimes, however it is not normal or healthy for your child to constantly lie. This is a sign that maybe you are being too strict with them and they are lying in an effort to avoid a punishment from you. Like I mentioned above, you need to evaluate the seriousness of things. If your child is getting told off for everything they do, then it is natural for them to want to lie in order for them not to disappoint you. If your child is lying too much, try and relax your rules a little bit.
3. You have no patience
Children are fun, funny, silly and love to play! If you are a parent that gets irritated with your child’s silliness and you don’t seem to have a sense of humour when it comes to their silly jokes and games, then I think it is time you take a step back and evaluate how you handle this. Children don’t stay children for very long and it is really important we nurture and appreciate their innocence and silliness for as long as we can. It is important to savour the moment, and have fun with your child sometimes. You can still be a strict parent and yet have fun with your child. They will appreciate and benefit from this so much as they grow. Don’t stifle their ridiculousness, this is what makes children so wonderful!
4. You cannot tolerate other peoples ways of disciplining
Parents that are too strict often have a tough time seeing the way other people discipline. They find fault in the teachers “lack of discipline” or think the Grandparents let the child do whatever they want. If this is you, you must know that it is good for children to be exposed to different adults who discipline in different ways. Every individual is different and it is good for your child to see and feel that.
If you are the strictest parent out of the other parents at school and you are judging their ways of disciplining, then maybe you need to take a look at your own techniques. Are your expectations too high?
5. Your child has no time for FUN
Many children with super strict parents have little time to have fun. They are often moved from one activity to another with little relaxation or downtime. While structure and routine is very important in a child’s life, it is equally as important for your child to have a break and ‘let their hair down’.
6. You are constantly handing out directions and nagging?
“Annie, sit up straight”
“Don’t hold your fork like that”
“Have you finished your homework?”
“Have you put your toys away?”
Have you noticed that you are constantly barking directions at your child and constantly nagging in a negative way?
If this is you, try and save your instructions for the most important issues. Children have a good way of “zoning out” when they listen to too much of something they don’t like to hear. This then infuriates you and makes you nag more which of course won’t help because by that time, your child won’t care. Nagging prevents children for taking responsibility for their own behaviour. If you are constantly fighting for them to do something, you are not teaching them or giving them the opportunity to learn to do things on their own. Give your child a bit of freedom to do things their own way when you can, it can go along way in them gaining independence and responsibility.
7. You don’t let your child do things their way
More often than not, tough parents want things done their way. If it is hard for you to let your child do something as it might “be wrong”, then you need to evaluate your style. If it is important for the bed to be made in the morning, but you won’t let your child do it themselves because it will look messy, then how will they learn? Children need to be given simple responsibilities in order to learn and gain experience from them. If you instruct your child on how to play the way you want them to play then you are stifling them with control. While it is important to give instruction to your children, make sure you prioritise with what task needs instruction or not. It is important to allow for flexibility and creativity.
8. You praise the result and not the effort
Tough parents are called tough for a reason – they are not soft on their children. A lot of strict parents don’t offer praise to their child. They reserve their praise for the end result of perfection and not the effort. A lot of these children don’t reach their parents idea of “perfection” and therefore rarely receive encouragement and praise. If you do this, your child may think that your love is conditional and therefore they hurt themselves trying to achieve your high standards. Are the goals you want your child to achieve, your goals or theirs?
Try and constantly encourage your child. Children thrive when their hard work is valued. Don’t under value your child, love them and show them that your love is unconditional.
9. You focus everything on a lesson
Strict parents often turn every activity into a mandatory life lesson. Where it is often good to educate them as they do something, the way you do it can make a big difference. If your child is colouring a picture, you can have a general conversation about the colours they have chosen and why they chose to do it that way rather than a quiz on the spectrum of different colours they want to use. Again like everything else, choose the right time to give your child a lesson. You don’t need to turn everything into a learning exercise. Play itself gives your child the opportunity to use their imagination and creativity which is wonderful for their development and it can be a great escape from the normal routine and structure of their day.
10. You have too many rules
Rules are wonderful and are very necessary when it comes to being a good parent but too many rules are harmful. Try to keep your rules simple and age appropriate. If you have a young child, don’t overdo it with a long list of rules as they ultimately won’t be able to follow them and then it will just lead to them disappointing you when they don’t reach your high expectations. It’s a great idea to have a list of the hard rules and print them out and put the list in a place where your child can always see them. That way, they know what they need to follow and when they need to do it.
If you are a parent that does all of the above, then this indicates you might be too tough on your child. It doesn’t mean that you are not trying your best, because you probably are. You are probably trying so hard to be the perfect parent, that you don’t let your boundaries down. One of the most important things about being a parent is being able to appreciate your child. To appreciate your wonderful, funny, unique child, you need to relax a little and have fun. Only then, can you and your child be happy and benefit from each others company. If you are a happy parent, your child will be happy. If you are miserable, then most likely your child will be too.
“The greatest happiness is family happiness” – Joyce Brothers
It can be hard to step back and make a change and if you struggle, try to look at it through your child’s eyes. How do you think they feel with the constant rules? nagging? pressure to be perfect? Is it helping them to become a good, all rounded person or are you suffocating their development? It is good to evaluate our parenting if it looks like it’s not working. It doesn’t mean that you are a failure, it just means you are trying harder to be the best parent out there.
When you are struggling, it is important to remember that “A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it”. Your child ALWAYS needs love and encouragement and if you are too tough, they won’t feel either of these resonating from you.