We continue our discussion on effective discipline for children with the important issue of how parents or caregivers approach discipline when there are differences of opinion. Principle #3 advises that caregivers present a unified front. That means that communication between parents must be open to any differences, and that those differences can be identified, discussed and a consensus met. Otherwise, inconsistency confuses the child in how he/she is to best function in an environment.
The necessity of presenting a unified front
Unfortunately, many different views of how to discipline children exist. These differences can become a source of disagreement during the time that caregivers are actually implementing discipline. It is too late in the process to encourage desired behavior when the argument erupts in front of the child over how to discipline.
How we parent can be a deeply emotional and sometimes even a passionate issue. When caregivers disagree and discipline their children differently, confusion results for both child and caregivers. Particularly in situations of separations, divorce and other scenarios like in a blended family, parents and caregivers who are at odds with each other can struggle to be on the same page about discipline.
5 Tips to help caregivers and parents unite
Some ideas for helping caregivers to have a united front or agreement on rules might include the following:
- Caregivers should draw up a list of rules that everyone can agree with.
- Let other caregivers know the areas and aspects of a child’s upbringing that are not negotiable.
- Keep communication open and allow time to discuss what went on when your child was in someone else’s care.
- Have a book that goes back and forth between parents and teacher that outlines things each wants the other to know. Scheduling extra parent-teacher conferences when parents are concerned can also be helpful.
- Make sure that any disagreements over discipline are discussed without the child present, and make sure you do not disagree with other caregivers in front of the child. Whenever possible, parents should show support for one another’s decisions when the child is present.
Even if your parenting situation is one in which the child lives in two locations and can get mixed messages, it will still be important for him/her to understand boundaries, rules and clear guidelines for when he/she is in your care.
We need to give our children as much consistency as we can in order to help with clarity and safety in the home and school environment. It is important to provide that clarity even when another set of rules are imposed from somewhere else.
More to come in my next post.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Information taken from Pathways to Competence, Sarah Landy, p. 401-402..