The Permissive Punishing Parent

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The Permissive-Punishing Parent

There’s a parenting style spreading like wild-fire these days: I call it Permissive-Punishing Parenting

Permissive-Punishing Parents flip-flop back and forth between modern attempts at discipline (e.g.  explaining, reasoning, reward charts) combined with heroic efforts to be endlessly patient, and resentment fuelled moments where the parent reaches the end of their tether and acts out in their characteristic style (e.g. yelling, shaming, sulking, disapproving).

Now the good news is that parents who are attuned enough to modern techniques to have them in their parental tool box have plenty of skills and opportunities to provide the all-important attention and encouragement that their children experience as proof that they are loved.

The bad news is that all those lovely moments of depositing encouragement in a child’s emotional tank are deeply drained by the moments where the parent shouts or screams or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, drops into a pool of “hurt” and refuses to speak for a while.

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Unfortunately, because the human brain pays SO MUCH attention to the negative, those moments when the parent acts out or acts in (that’s the punishing part by the way) come with a very high price-tag in terms of the relationship between parent and child.  Also, the kind of positive discipline that most parents want to use can only be effective when the relationship between the parent and child is very strong.

Parents frequently have a sense of the “damage” their punishing parenting moments are causing and are often filled with remorse after their outbursts.

So they tend to recommit to their efforts to be patient and all is well (kind of) until they reach the end of their rope once again.

It is not possible for merely human parents to be endlessly patient with their children.  Nor is it even desirable if endless patience is interpreted as not setting reasonable limits for a child’s behaviour and following through with appropriate and effective consequences when the limits are transgressed – as they inevitably will be.

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So I hope you see that it stands to reason that every parent of good intent is going to need more than patience in order to successfully mould their child’s character in the direction they would like it to go.

When I speak with parents in my private practice about appropriate expectations for their children’s behaviour (an essential first step in any discussion of boundaries, consequences and discipline) it becomes clear that part of the reason for the problems at home is a lack of certainty about what constitutes an appropriate expectation for their child’s behaviour.

If you haven’t settled the issue in your own mind of what your limit is, how on earth can you expect your child to stay on the right side of it?

Parent’s heads nowadays are full of psychological ideas like “age-appropriate behaviour” and “self-esteem”.  But far from helping them, these ideas have tended to paralyse parents and rob them of any confidence in their parental decision making.

This is a pity because children respond very well indeed to confident, authoritative parents with high expectations for their children’s behaviour who fairly and consistently enforce their rules and standards with appropriate, thoughtful consequences.  Which I realise is a lot of psychobabble for what used to be called loving but strict parents.

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So what’s my take-home message for you today?  I want to encourage you to be stricter with your children!  Stopping the bad behaviour sooner and insisting they make amends or experience a logical but unappetising consequence for poor behaviour is FAR preferable to trying to be more patient than you truly are and then losing it!

If you would like to read more about positive discipline techniques please search through my blog posts on discipline and consequences on my website at www.beyondsupernanny.com

And if you decide that you would like some help to make changes in a positive direction at home, then please get in touch: samantha@beyondsupernanny.com

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