Discipline Children and Teens Without the Guilt

Guilt Free Parenting Tips

Caucasian female, age 15, with her father, age 43
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Do you find yourself avoiding the task of disciplining your child or teen? Do you feel responsible for their negative moods or bad behavior? Are you giving in to your child because you are compensating for something else in their lives or you are afraid they will get angry? Do you get anxious feelings when you think about imposing a consequence on your teen because you are worried you did something wrong?

If so, you are feeling guilty and it is getting in the way of you productively training your child or teenager.

Guilt is keeping you from disciplining your child or teen. This is not good because you have become unable to show them how to act and what is expected of them. As Bonnie Harris, author of When Your Kids Push Your Buttons, explains "Guilty parents are not very good at[...] creating appropriate boundaries because their focus is on what they haven't done right."

How to Discipline Without the Guilt

But you can turn these bad parenting mistakes around, actually you are the only one who can! And when you do, you will benefit from it, your ten will benefit and your relationship with your teen will become more positive. As with many other life lessons, knowing what is happening is the first step to changing your behavior. You can get rid of the guilt and change. Your child or teenager will respond and change for the better as well.

Use these tips to start disciplining without the guilt today:

Start allowing your teen to own their problems, feelings and behaviors. By letting go of what they are doing, the situations they are in and what they feel, you will be free to do and say the things that will help them. Getting bogged down with the things you can't control produces guilt because you can't fix things for other people.

This isn't to say that you should ignore what your teen is doing, which is a common misconception. Knowing about a problem and owning it are two very different things. Knowing about a problem is being informed where as owning it is attaching your emotions and self to the problem and trying to control its outcome. When a parent keeps informed, they can help their teen with advice and guidance. Otherwise, parents can get in the way of their teen solving the problem or become the problem themselves.

Clear messages and fair but firm discipline will enable you to let go of your guilt. You'll know that your child or teen knows what is expected of them and how to get what they want in a way that is appropriate. Seems simple, right? It's not. Clear messages and fair but firm discipline get placed on a back burner because of things like both parents working, daily chores being completed - you have to eat! - and a whole plethora of valid reasons. But, when parents actively find ways to use clear messages and fair but firm discipline, they are able to not feel guilty when they're child or teen is facing the consequences of their actions. So strive to use these parenting skills and tools to help you save time and not feel guilty.

Handle any confrontation with your teen after you have thought it through. Do not give into the heat of the moment and yell or lose your temper. Give yourself some time before making any choices. You do not want to end up in a power struggle - that is a sure fire way to feeling guilty. If you do this, something we all have done from time to time, fall back and regroup. Deal with the matter at hand that is happening at the present moment. Do not allow yourself to be softer in your discipline because of bad situations that are going on in your child or teen's life or things that have happened in the past.

If you make it a habit to give in and allow your teen to do something you wouldn't ordinarily allow because of this type of guilt, your child or teen will never become resilient. Worse, they could begin to feel entitled which leads to kids and teens acting like spoiled brats.

While there may be a twinge or two of guilt along your parenting path with your children, following these steps will not only help you keep the feeling to a minimum, but it will keep guilt out of your discipline and help you enjoy your parenting journey with your kids and teens.

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