First of all, I get it. With four kids under eight, you are both exhausted. That has a huge influence on how you discipline. It’s hard to discern why your child is acting a certain way when you’re tired. And it’s hard to not discipline from a place of frustration when you’re tired. Here are a few things you can try that will help your kids’ behavior and help relieve your own exhaustion.
1. First, know that sometimes you can figure out bad behavior and sometimes you can’t. Don’t make it your life’s goal to know why your child is misbehaving every time. This will exhaust you even more. And knowing why doesn’t necessarily mean you will prevent the behavior in the future.
2. See if there is a common “theme” to your children’s behavior. Do they backtalk, refuse to go to bed, refuse to listen? If this is the case, then your kids are taking advantage of you because you’re tired. Sit them down and say, “Look, here’s the deal. No one in our home is allowed to [insert bad behavior]. So if any of you does this, I’m not going to yell, but I will [insert consequence].” This consequence will vary depending on the child. Taking away screen time and time-outs are effective consequences for most children of this age.
I know this is tough and takes a lot of energy, but the good news is, if you can be consistent with this type of discipline for several weeks, your kids will change. Be patient with yourself.
Parents, I know you have a lot of questions about discipline. If you like my Ask Dr. Meg posts, I strongly encourage you to join my Parenting Great Kids community where I answer questions like this every day in real time. Questions like how to stop your kid’s temper tantrums and help prevent them from happening again, how to talk to your kids about sex, and any other question about parenting you could possibly have.
You are not the only parent questioning if you’re disciplining your kids the right way. In this special online community, we have multiple threads about this very topic where you can not only find answers and solutions to your discipline problems, but you’ll also be part of a community of other parents who are going through the same things you are. There is strength in numbers.
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