The Keys to Successful Parenting: Consistency, Communication, and Correcting Behavior

A common misconception of strict parenting is that it is “authoritarian parenting” which is defined in psychology circles as parents who discipline their children in a militarized style incorporating strict rules, harsh punishments and little endearment for children. Strict parenting is far from authoritarian parenting. In actuality, strict parenting is authoritative parenting which is using unwavering structure of what is right and wrong and expressing ideas to the children. Strict parenting is the key to a well-adjusted child in his behavior, social interaction, and emotions.

Every child misbehaves on occasion, but it is resilient parenting that guides the child to control his behavior. The most effective “discipline” for children is always strong, positive, affection and calm leadership not screaming and yelling. Combating misbehavior is only part of a parent’s mission while they raise their children. Another big piece is that parents teach their children in a way that allows the children to internalize their parents’ guidance, so they can become well-adjusted adults. Children are copycats and the parents’ own attitudes, beliefs, emotional affairs, and communication skills will be picked up by the child. Parents need to learn how their own actions affect who the child will become and how he will handle his social interaction. Strict parenting requires consistent encouragement, emotionally and spiritually, as well as being strong through tough times by being the children’s mentor, giving them boundaries and structures and insisting on high expectations. Parents should strive to bring up their children so that the family is bonded by talking, listening and spending time with the child, working on projects together, playing physical games inside and outside while helping them grow by teaching them values of universal cultures, conversational skills, social skills and painting a positive picture of the world. Dewar Ph.D. writes “Kids raised by authoritative parents are more likely to become independent, self-reliant, socially accepted, academically successful, and well-behaved” (Dewar). Like authoritarian parents, authoritative parents enforce rules, but unlike authoritarian parents they have guidelines that are reasonable for the child. This gives structure to the child and shows them from an early age that the parents are in charge while allowing the child to test and explore what is acceptable. Parents express their thoughts on what is right or wrong and allow the child to ask questions or express their feelings at all times. Rules can be changed as the house revolves around communication. If a child believes that a rule is unfair or should be changed, the parents and children talk and come to an understanding. The parents make sure they speak clearly to express their decision and explain why they have come to that conclusion. The parents may also suggest different avenues that are acceptable to them. Mrs. Leomary Horner, a mother who affectively uses strict parenting states, “My child is not a chore. I want to know what she is thinking and we will work together to get the correct outcome. You grow with your children.” This type of strict parenting makes a home environment that the child feels secure in.

Unlike authoritarian parenting, strict parenting is not a one size fits all approach. When parents are raising multiple children, they need to take into account the children’s various personality types in order to deal with discipline accordingly. Regardless, children must never be reprimanded in a negative way, and instead need to be taught why it is not correct to do that specific type of behavior. Each child is different; therefore, the one size fits all technique does not fit in this type of parenting. Parents should talk to the child positively with a lot of patience and guide them in the right direction. Nobody should expect to see the child immediately change after the first talking to, especially when they are younger. The child will not immediately maintain perfect behavior. It may take quite a few times talking about the same thing for the child to finally understand and follow what you have talked about. Consistency is the key in disciplining the child, and parents should not waver because they are frustrated or tired. If the child does something on a larger scale, the parent can add punishments that fit the act, but it is always explained to the child and then the punishment needs to be applied and stuck to. For example, if a child has been late to school for the second day in a row when walking to school the parent can talk to the child and tell him he is going to ride the bus for a week. He has lost the privilege to walk to school since he has not left home to make it to school with enough time so he is not late. After the week of riding the bus, if he is late walking again, there will be further consequences. The parent should explain to the child that he will be given one more chance to try this again and it is he who is going to make the decision on how things play out.

Some parents believe that screaming and yelling will force their child into obeying and is the best way to deal with discipline problems. This is certainly not so and can cause very negative outcomes in the child’s life. Parents need to try to control their actions even when they are tempted to scream and yell. If upset when talking to the child it is okay for the parents to excuse themselves and say that they are upset right now and that they need time to think about what just happened. This gives everyone time to calm down and truly think about the situation and how it will be best to fix the behavior of the child. Rod Wallace Kennedy, who conducts workshops in parenting conflict resolution explains, “Nothing sacrifice’s respect in the home and poisons in the environment like screaming and yelling” (50). While screaming might offer illusions of power, the reality is that an out-of-control parent cannot be in control of an out-of-control child. Screaming scares children, and once they are used to the parent screaming, they become the parent by screaming back, or they can be on the opposite spectrum and become on guard day and night, nervous that the parent is going to explode with rage, and start hiding, being always nervous and are not able to just enjoy life. Children whose parents use authoritative parenting styles of discipline choose to obey parents not out of fear but out of love and respect.

Authoritarian parents may think that their major responsibility is to control their child’s actions. However, even more important is controlling one’s own actions and modeling the type of behavior you want your child to possess. Children internalize their parents from birth. Joer Gauld, parenting and education expert, author and founder of Hyde Boarding and Charter Schools, writes “This imitation process is powerful; it is how children internalize their parents’ values, character, sense of purpose, etc. However, this also means imitating their parents’ negative attitudes, behaviors, moods and biases. So children are essentially stuck with both our best and our worst”. Parents need to step back and look at their own actions and think about how they want their children to be when they become adults and write everything down. The parents should make a checklist on things they personally might have to work on to make sure the child does not imitate those particular traits. The old saying, “Do as I say not as I do” does not work. For example, a teenager may be more prone to drinking if the parent drinks every day in front of the teenager. This action, in the teenagers mind is that if my parents do this then so can I. They could possibly start drinking, hide it from their parents, and possibly get themselves in trouble, or worse die as a result of this behavior. Part of being a responsible parent is changing oneself and it might not be the easiest one to modify, but it is definitely worth trying to overcome for the child.

The keys to effective strict parenting are communication, consistency and correcting behavior in an encouraging rather than discouraging way. Parents should encourage the child in everything he does. The Raising Children Network proposes, “No matter how old your children are, your praise and encouragement will help them feel good about themselves. This boosts their self-esteem and confidence “(Praise, Encouragement and Rewards,). Children who receive genuine praise and encouragement have been shown to be more resilient. They focus on the effort and believe they can change the circumstances through learning or determination. Communication is stressed a few times throughout this paper for a good reason. Without communication strict parenting will not work. A lot of family turmoil can be avoided with good communication. Parents need to understand what they say, they might understand or believe it to be perfectly clear but the children might not understand it at all. Even if the parent has good intentions, the child can misinterpret it. The effect can be completely different to the whole family. Kennedy mentions “Intentions have to be communicated so they can be recognized and understood”. Listening goes both ways. Parents need to listen to their children just as children need to listen to their parents. Parents tend to listen to children and not collect everything the child was saying because the parent believes it is irrelevant. The child might be excited about a new band coming out. If the parent tends to make these points invaluable when talking back to the child, this will be a domino effect when the parent is speaking to the child on issues the parent believes to be important.

Some parents may disagree with the strict parenting philosophy and feel that their child needs to be dominated in order to behave well. This is decidedly not so. No one wants to listen to someone who is always barking orders. Parents should keep the voice calm and warm when talking to children. Always make sure the attention of the child is on the parent. As the parent, speaking, don’t expect that the child is listening. In younger children it is best to go down to the child’s level and touch him before talking. With older children they could be answering but truly paying attention to the game they are playing. Make it a point to have the child pause the game or give him a time limit to finish to come talk if needed. American pianist Michael Levine says, “Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist. To be an effective parent and have a healthy family, you need to spend time together” (Spending Quality Time with Your Child). Parents need to bond with their children, and this is accomplished by being a family as much as possible by eating meals together, having game nights, and doing outings such as hikes, going to the movies, and playing sports. These are a few examples as this will vary from each family and what the parents and the children’s likes and dislikes are. The more quality time parents spend with their children, the deeper the relationship will become.

Work Cited

Dewar, Glen. “The authoritative parenting style: A guide for the science-minded parent.” Parenting Science ? The science of child-rearing and child development. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014.

Gauld, Joseph. “The Secret to a Powerful Connection With Our Children | Joseph W. Gauld.” The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014.

Horner, Leomarys. Personal interview. 19 July, 2014.

Kennedy, Rodney. The Encouraging Parent: How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids and Start Teaching Them Confidence, Self-Discipline, and Joy. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001. Print.

“Praise, encouragement and rewards.” N.p., Web. <raisingchildren.net.au/articles/praise_and_encouragement.html>.
“Spending Quality Time with Your Child | Parent Further.” N.p., Web. 23 July 2014.