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Some children are angels at school and devils at home, which seems to be the case with Kay Yu’s son. The father-of-one posted on the popular Facebook page Parenting Tips and Advice, hoping to be offered some tricks on how to discipline his “rude” five-year-old. He explained: “When my wife takes him to any store, he either forces her to buy candy or toys and typically isn’t satisfied with just one and wants several. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he gets physical with his mum and is very rude. He’s great at school and very respectful in class and follows all their rules, but is very rude to us and doesn’t follow any instructions in spite of us being very respectful to him.”
Kay went on to say that even getting his child to eat his meals at the table, brush his teeth, or dressed for school is difficult. These tasks are “daily challenges”.
He continued: “We limit his TV watching to just two hours a day, but he gets mad when asked to turn it off.
“He loves action cartoons but some are just too violent and he hates it when we restrict him from watching that type of content. The problem is that he acts out those scenes violently at home once the cartoon is over.”
The young father explained that he is “unable to figure out what we are doing wrong” – a relatable thought to many a parent.
According to Rachel Fitz-Deshorger, a parenting expert, writer, author of Your Baby Skin To Skin, and a regular guest speaker on The Baby Show, it is unsurprising that parents don’t always know what they are doing.
“Most of us aren’t taught about this or about how children develop and change and so it is not at all surprising that parents spend so much time scratching their heads,” she told Express.co.uk.
“When we are so close to a problem we cannot see the wood for the trees and so parents often flail around when faced with a parenting challenge and, knowing no better, start ‘throwing jelly at the wall’.
“Desperate for a quick fix, the temptation is to try a strategy for half a day and then, when that doesn’t work, switch tactics. Parents are not helped by the sheer volume of garbage on the internet, and so they find themselves repeating the mistakes of other parents who are just as confused as they are.”
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What should parents do, therefore, to discipline their children? Rachel explained that “children pick up unwanted behaviours from a variety of places – school, clubs, playgrounds, TV, and at home”.
“It is our job as parents to set the standards within our own home and to model good behaviour, and then to ensure that our children are supported to learn to abide by those standards, or live with the consequences of failing to do so,” the expert said.
“Simple house rules such as, ‘in this house, we do not speak rudely to other people’, are clear and simple, but only work if everyone who ever sets foot in the house toes the line and makes amends if they break the rule. If you keep breaking your own rules, or make excuses when you transgress, expect your child to follow suit.”
Cheryl MacDonald, parenting expert and founder of YogaBellies.com, was less harsh when explaining where children may have got their bad behaviour from. Of course, life at home influences a child, but Cheryl stressed that “a parent should absolutely not blame themselves if their child is rude to them”.
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“They should try speaking to them in a reasonable way, explaining to them why that is not acceptable,” she advised. “And really speak to the child like an adult – have a proper conversation with them about their actions.
“Lots of things in both kids’ and adults’ lives can make us angry and disrespectful to others – it’s not necessarily anything to do with the parents.”
Cheryl went on to recommend giving a naughty child some kind of punishment or recrimination if they continue to misbehave and act in a rude and disrespectful way, such as “removal of privileges so that it makes them realise that it’s not acceptable to treat people that way, and to also realise that it does hurt their parents as they’re people as well”.
When it comes to disciplining a child who refuses to do daily tasks, like brushing their teeth, eating their meals at the table, or getting dressed in the mornings, Cheryl again advised speaking to them like one would speak to an adult.
“Tell them that you respect their opinion and let them have their options,” she said. “For example, ask them what they want to wear rather than telling them and ask them what they want to eat rather than just giving it to them – hopefully they will be happier with things that way.”
Rachel, meanwhile, recommended using stricter disciplinary methods. She said: “Use marching music or an egg timer as an audible or visual cue to keep them on track while getting dressed in the morning – ‘see if you can be dressed and downstairs for breakfast before the music stops’.
“If they arrive at the table undressed, send them back up – ‘hey, you have come down for breakfast undressed. That makes me feel pretty fed-up because I reminded you first thing. In this house we dress and brush teeth before breakfast. Quick, sort yourself out – no breakfast until you are ready and we have to leave at 8.30am’.
“Be prepared to stand your ground and let your child eat a banana and a slice of toast on the way to school if they have taken too long – only by feeling the consequences of failing to do what you asked will they learn that you mean what you say.”
Rachel advised always speaking in a “confident, deeper, and serious” voice when telling your child off, but she noted that parents shouldn’t feel disheartened when their child doesn’t always listen and continues to misbehave.
“Parenting is a journey, not a race,” she added.
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