Am I A Bad Parent If I Discipline My Kids When They're Acting Out?
"They will forget how they behaved, but they will remember how you behaved."
Hey there, fellow cyber squatters — it's me, your favourite online columnist and your internet bestie, Hameda.
I don't know when it happened, but a little while ago, I made the decision that I don't want to birth any children. I'm not so ignorant to claim that this is a decision I'll never go back on — but for now, not having kids feels like the right one for me.
There are several reasons why I've made this decision — but one of them is because I plainly and simply don't believe I'd be a good parent. This isn't to say I'm not nurturing, or that I hate babies, but I absolutely don't believe that I have it in me to dedicate my life to another soul.
I'm the youngest of four children — and while I love my parents dearly, I'm not sure that having me (or my siblings tbh) was the best decision for them. There seems to be a lot of pressure, or there seems to have been a lot of pressure in the past, for reproduction. This feels to be especially true for those with my cultural background, where finding a partner (of the opposite sex) and having children is essentially the ~sole life purpose~ of women.
The reality is, how we're brought up certainly affects the way we may raise our own children — I've witnessed the struggle first hand as an aunt to five gorgeous kids. I guess I'm too self-obsessed to put myself through the same thing.
And when I received this DM from a lovely reader who's going through it with her children, I wanted to help — but of course don't have first hand experience.
So I've administered help from a contributor who's gone through the same thing.
"The first thing I want you to know is that you are not alone. This battle between self-control and lashing out is a constant issue for all parents and carers. The most important thing to remember when you are in a tense situation with your boys is that you are the ADULT. Don’t forget that children are exploring their boundaries and limits, but you are who they look up to and they will learn and mimic your behaviour."
"As hard as it can be, stay calm and in control. Imagine looking into the situation from the outside and what would the two scenarios look like. The one where you scream and lose control and the one where you are calm."
"As a school teacher, I'm familiar with the behaviour of children and I have learnt not to react. But my husband doesn't have the same insight, and does not have the patience. When my son was between the ages of seven and eight, we had a few instances where both of them were in a rage. I didn’t approach and correct my husband's behaviour then and there. I waited till things cooled down and then asked him to envision the situation — stating 'imagine you were the neighbour looking in'. Suffice to say, he was quite embarrassed by his behaviour."
"Let them know that you are a team and you are supportive of them, but if they feel like they can’t control the situation, they should walk away and calm down. I'd also like to point out that kids are kids. Yes they will challenge you, but their behaviour is irrational at times — and after an incident they might not even realise what happened. They will forget how they behaved, but they will remember how you behaved."
"It is also important to walk away from the situation and tell your child that you will have a conversation when they have calmed down. Even at a young age, it’s important to have a conversation and talk about the situation. Ask them what made them feel that particular way and set expectations. If your child was in a rage or screaming, teach them to go for a run outside, count backwards, drink some cold water, or anything else that might pull them out of the headspace that's causing them to act out."
"You should also discuss what they think the consequences should be. If your child says they don’t deserve a punishment this time — that they were not aware of their behaviour, that's okay. In that case, have an open discussion with them about what the consequence of their actions might be, should they repeat the behaviour and come to an agreement together. This is very important, and remember — as hard as it is, keep to the consequences!
"Parenting is hard and I still think about what might've been different if I'd realised the enormity of this commitment. Don’t get me wrong — I would not have changed anything, but it would have prepared me better. The challenges will keep coming — remember to keep an open conversation with your partner and your children and build a home that everyone can call a sanctuary."
And that's all the advice we have for our dear reader today. If you have anything you'd like to add, or have been through a similar situation — feel free to offer your advice in the comments below.
If you've got a question about a problem, have a thought you can't seem to resolve, or want another opinion on a scenario in your life, you can DM me about it on Instagram (@itshameda) or Twitter (@hamedanafiz) to be featured in the column.
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