Which parent doesn’t make mistakes? We all do. Parenting is daily activity that requires patience, resilience, and drive. Just as we teach our children to learn from their mistakes, we can too! Here are some common parenting mistakes in discipline, and some possible solutions:

  • Back Down: If you set rules with your child, make sure that you stick with them. For instance, if you tell your daughter or son that “bedtime is bedtime,” you must stick with that rule. If you don’t, neither child has any incentive to change their behavior for the future.

    Instead, follow through on your rules. If you create rules that you simply cannot follow, then how can you expect your children to trust that the other rules are resolute?

  • Tell a Lie: Sometimes it’s very tempting to tell our children white lies in order to ease a problematic situation. For instance, if you are in the supermarket and your child wants a box of cookies and you do not want to buy them, you could temporarily solve the problem by saying, “I’m sorry. We can’t buy those because they are not for sale.” Later, your child could see a cousin eating those cookies and become quite confused – either the cousin is stole them or you told her a lie.

    Rather, Bonnie Maslin, author of Picking Your Battles, explains that empathizing with your child would be better. Say something like, “I know you want those cookies, honey. They look really tasty, but I would prefer to buy healthier foods today.” This allows your child to know that you are listening to them, but does not create a situation in which you are dishonest.

  • Lose it: Taking care of multiple children requires an immense amount of patience. Sometimes, you might find yourself on your at the end of your rope, screaming at your children. The problem with this form of discipline is that when you lose it, you are teaching your children that it is okay for them to lose it when they are upset.

    Instead, children aren’t the only people who need time-outs. Give yourself permission to walk away from the difficult situation (as long as it is a safe setting). Take a deep breath, count to ten, and then you will be much more effective at disciplining your child.

  • Talk on and on: When reasoning or disciplining your child, you might be tempted to explain the situation to them the way you would speak to an adult. However, children are not mini-adults and long explanations or instructions simply go over their heads.

    As an alternative, keep your instructions short and sweet. “Do not whine. Use your big boy voice.” “No snacks before dinner.” Or, “Clean up your toys before bath time.” Children will respond to those statements much more readily than a long lecture.

Changing your children’s negative behavior will probably require you to change yourself. Some of the most valuable character traits such as patience, tenacity, foresight, courage, self-control, and acceptance are gained in the process of parenthood.