Dealing with difficult behavior from toddlers can be challenging in any family, but when Mom and Dad are at different ends of the discipline spectrum, everyone loses.
But don’t panic, these simple solutions will help you in the discipline debate:
1. Start by identifying the aspects of parenting and discipline in which you DO agree. You’ll be more successful by beginning with a foundation of where you do agree rather than focusing energy on the many areas where you disagree.
2. Take a close look at the reasons to why you disagree on parenting and discipline issues. Often, the differences relate to how you were raised as a child and on the importance your parents placed on different rules. Once you understand WHY you disagree, you can work towards common ground, agree?
3. Plus, start small. Begin with the non-negotiable rules for your family. These will typically involve the health and safety rules (washing hands after going to the bathroom, brushing teeth after dinner, etc) and other areas your family values, like education (TV or no TV, going to bed time…) or respect (screaming at mom or dad will not be tolerated) and such.
4. Agree on the limits and expectations for the non-negotiable rules and clearly follow and communicate those to everyone who is involved with your child (babysitters, grandparents…). Be sure to follow through each and every time so your children could see that you mean business.
5. Challenges will still take place… However, keep in mind, when dealing with day to day discipline dilemmas, that every misbehavior can be a great opportunity for learning (no one is born knowing it all, right?) Also, ask yourselves a question: “What do we want our child to LEARN from this experience or discipline opportunity?” That helps you focus on what will be most helpful to you and your child.
Discipline is not about winning – it’s about teaching your child to make the best possible choices in the future in the same or similar situation and learning from the mistakes along the way.
And remember: Choose your battles!