With each generation comes a different culture, set of beliefs and way of thinking. Parents often find it very difficult to communicate with their children due to the generational differences.
When their children are not behaving up to their expectations, parents of this generation uses their parents’ approaches that they know best while growing up. These often involve the top-down approach, reprimanding and punishments.
But these methods could very easily slip into abuse (verbal and physical), and might not work for this generation anymore.
In fact, they could become counter-effective and widen the distance from their children instead.
So, how then can parents effectively earn the respect of their children of this generation when they are misbehaving?
Calm yourself down first
It is understandably difficult to control your emotions when your child is not heeding your words, but you shouldn’t let your feelings take control as it can lead to the situation becoming more ugly and difficult than it has to be.
Children tend to mirror the actions of adults, especially their parents whom they’re supposed to look up to. Always remember to set a good example as an adult and live up to your words. If you raise your voice at your child, you are encouraging them to do the same when dealing with negative emotions in future.
Take a few deep breaths if you have to, before speaking to your child in a neutral manner.
Validate their feelings and explain what went wrong
It is important to show acknowledgement to your child that you understand what they’re feeling. This is so that they feel like they can communicate with you, and that both of you are on the same wavelength.
Example: I understand that you felt scared that I would not allow you to play with your friends.
However, explain to them why their actions were not acceptable. You can also set boundaries and provide alternatives. It is also important to let them know that they have a choice.
Example: Can you ask me for permission in the future so that we can discuss and compromise?
Teach them how to cope with their negative feelings
Often, feelings can be very overwhelming and children, especially, don’t know how to express them in a healthy way. Sometimes, they don’t even know how to identify their feelings and communicate them to you.
Try to ask them to communicate what they need step-by-step so that they can break down their emotions.
Example: You should not yell when you have big feelings. Communicate nicely and respectfully — what is it that you want?
With practice, your child will learn the correct way to communicate their feelings and needs.
Apologise whenever you need to
Putting down your ego as a parent will allow your child to feel acknowledged, which will make them willing to hear you out.
Example: I’m sorry that I didn’t make you feel like you could talk to me about it. I hope you realise that you can come to me for anything and we will come up with a solution together.
Doing so will encourage them to apologise when they’re in the wrong too, not only with their parents, but also in their other relationships.
You may think that punishment will help your child to understand what’s right and wrong, but it’s not true. When you punish them, be it in terms of corporal (physical) punishment or taking away things that they enjoy, they will only grow resentment and fear.
Corporal punishment was a common discipline approach in the past but has proven to not be the right approach parents should use.
To date, some parents still feel that corporal punishment works in disciplining their children, but research has shown that while it can stop bad behaviour immediately, it is harmful in the long run as the children may develop abusive tendencies and mental health problems.
They may resort to hiding things from you and turning rebellious in future.
Don’t use verbal abuse
Verbal abuse is just as deadly as physical abuse, if not even worse, because it may leave permanent internal scars.
Verbally attacking your child will cause them to grow feelings of low self-esteem and destroy their confidence, which will then lead to poor mental health.
It will also affect how they view their friendships and relationships, including their own children. They may find it difficult to unlearn the negative approaches that they have been used to and carry them on to the next generation too.
Example: You’re always causing so much trouble.
It might be tempting to just rely on “easier” methods of discipline and resort to scolding and hitting your child. However, it is not going to get through to them and might even worsen their behaviour.
Discipling your child effectively is not easy and might sound like a lot of work, but it will get easier over practice. Build a healthy relationship with your child before it’s too late!