I walked into a room, witnessed it, and thought to myself – Aaah! My old enemy. We meet again.
I knew the journey wasn’t going to be easy. The signs were already there.
Flailing arms. Stubbornness. Tantrums. Screams. Tears.
If you’re parenting a toddler you know exactly what I am talking about and you are, in all likelihood trying to figure out how to discipline your little one effectively. (Read this blog post till the very end to learn some foolproof ways to do exactly that!)
I get it. Parenting can sometimes be arduous, crippling, and exhausting. I am currently a mom to two little kids – a two-year-old and a two-month-old and am still figuring it out.
My feisty toddler is quite the handful and I have realized that disciplining a young child is no easy feat.
I hear her scream the word “no” at least 500 times a day and it sometimes feels like I’m on the verge of yelling my guts out at her. But, having a strong-willed child only means that they are developmentally on track (Thank God!). Toddlers start developing their own identities and what we term as disobedience or rebellion can be chalked down to their need to control things around them and their inability to communicate feelings effectively.
But, what bothers me is that the whole world around us believes that ONLY obedient children are good children and that the act of parenting is merely an ongoing process of correcting a child’s behavior.
I distinctly remember the ocean of advice that poured in right when I shared my intention to be a gentle parent.
People would tell me that it is a parent’s responsibility to discipline the child and sometimes, that would mean mildly spanking and/or yelling at them. I understand that discipline is very important and that sometimes toddlers can go out of control and do things that can cause harm to themselves or others. But, violence, harsh punishment, and losing our cool are not good solutions.
Look, I get it, being a gentle parent isn’t easy. There are days where I’m exhausted and honestly, it may be easier to yell at my child as opposed to communicating with her. It may be easier if she just listened to me blindly.
But, here is why I try my best to be a gentle parent and not pressurize my daughter to be overly obedient.
Let us understand what it means to raise an overly obedient child and its possible repercussions!
When we demand blind obedience from our child, we steal their inner voice, their autonomy, their ability to make decisions and innate ability to differentiate between right and wrong.
Here are 6 consequences of raising an overly obedient child
The need for excessive validation
The child will grow up with the false belief that they need validation from others and be a “good child” to be worthy of love.
Being unable to think independently
The child will grow into an obedient adult who conforms to instructions as opposed to thinking independently.
Excessive dependence on parents
The child won’t be able to make decisions in absence of the parent.
Taking wrong decisions
The child may take wrong decisions that have severe consequences when they have little freedom.
The child may rebel and find other outlets to express their autonomy.
An unhealthy bond with the parent
The parent loses the opportunity to truly connect with the child and misses out on bonding with their child.
Disobedience is not disrespect
Society leads us to believe that excessive obedience in children is a hallmark for successful parenting, but in reality, it is not a healthy trait.
We as parents must realize that disobedience is not disrespect or the lack of love, it is merely a natural process through which kids learn, think, explore and create. They learn to react to situations by themselves and become smarter and more independent in the process.
By curbing their curiosity and innate desire to experience life, we steal a part of them.
Here are 3 benefits of raising an independent thinker
The child is self-driven
The child is self-driven. With the outside world not telling them what to do, the child is more likely to complete any endeavor they take up and be self-motivated as they do it.
The natural leadership qualities in the child are nurtured
The child will grow up to be a leader who is not afraid to follow their path and lead others through it.
The child is creative
The child is creative and doesn’t take blind orders. They have their unique perspective on things and situations.
That being said, I know discipline is an important part of life and kids need rules. Sometimes they need rules just so that they don’t bring themselves in harm’s way.
Here are 8 ways to discipline a stubborn child –
Ignore their tantrums – I know this seems mean, but sometimes ignoring a tantrum can be instrumental in making your child understand that this kind of behavior is not appreciated and that you will not give them any attention for behaving this way.
Avoid saying the word NO – Saying the word no all the time can steal its relevance making it less meaningful. Instead of saying no to your child, try saying something like “shall we do this instead?”!
Give them choices – Toddlers love choices and want to exert their independence. So, give them 2 alternatives whenever you can (2 outfit options, lunch options, etc)!
Be firm, not harsh! – Sometimes we need to let our child know that a no is a no, be consistent with rules and don’t give in to their demands especially if it’s unreasonable.
Divert their attention – Toddlers can be easily distracted, so divert their attention to something else.
Pick your battles – Don’t stop your child every single time they do something that is slightly inconvenient to you. Discipline them and deny them of things when it matters the most – not every time.
Practice positive discipline – Children are not good or bad, they just don’t know the ways of the world yet. So, communicate to them and explain what is good behavior and what is not. They love communicating with you and understanding the consequences of bad behavior can help them stop it.
Practice what you preach! – This has to be the most important step in disciplining a child. Children are like mirrors, they reflect what they see, so when they see you acting a certain way, they will act like that too (at least eventually)!
So, are you raising an independent child or an overly obedient one? I’d love to know.