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Disciplining with Courage and Kindness

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

I have a confession. When I was raising my children, I hated disciplining them. Some parents find discipline easy, I didn’t. I wanted my children to like me and enjoy being with me. I hated conflict and furthermore, as an easy-going person who doesn’t get rattled easily, discipline felt, well, antithetical to being a nice parent.

After 30 years of watching children grow up, I realize why we discipline our children. It isn’t to be mean, impose our will on them or even to make them obedient. These are necessary, but the most important reason we discipline children is to teach them self-control.`

Think of the men and women you know who have successful careers, happy marriages or great relationships with their kids. Examine them closely and you will find one common character strength- an ability to control their behaviors, speech and perhaps their thinking. They have learned that disciplining oneself leads to great success in all areas of life.

The next time you feel squirmy about discipline, remember this. Tell yourself that you, as a good parent, are in the business of training your sassy, headstrong toddler or teen to learn how to live with limits, boundaries and rules. As you impose these on your child, eventually, he will learn to impose them on himself and voila! He’s getting it- learning how to control himself. And when that happens- you’re off the hook. A great job has been done by none other than you.


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