4 Ways to Get Over the Guilt of Disciplining Your Child

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Making discipline decisions based on your desire to avoid feeling guilty isn’t a healthy way to parent. Trying to prevent your child from feeling disappointed, or working hard to escape being told you’re “mean” can cause you to give in to your child’s demands even when it’s not the healthiest choice. Follow these four strategies to help you get over the guilt that often becomes associated with saying no:

1.  Remind Yourself Why Discipline is Important

When you begin to feel guilty because you've set healthy limits, remind yourself why you are saying no. Discipline should be about teaching your child. That may mean teaching new skills, preventing your child from making bad choices, or helping your child solve problems effectively.

If you feel guilty when your child cries because you’ve said no, or you feel bad that you’re taking away privileges, focus on the long-term goal. Write down the reasons why you need to discipline your child and read that list when you’re feeling guilty. It can be a helpful reminder about why it’s important to intervene, even when you feel guilty.

2. Learn to Tolerate Your Child’s Discomfort

Good parenting isn’t about raising a happy child – it’s about teaching a child the skills necessary to become a responsible adult. Part of the learning process means there will be times your child will feel angry, sad, and disappointed.

Just because your child is uncomfortable, doesn’t mean you should do something different. In fact, it’s healthy for children to learn how to deal with uncomfortable feelings in a positive way. If you give into your child when he throws a temper tantrum or cries, you’ll be teaching him that these are good ways to get his needs met and he won’t learn healthy ways to manage his emotions.

Read More: The 5 Sneakiest Things Kids Say to Manipulate Parents

3. Find Strategies to Cope with Your Feelings

Develop a plan to help you cope with your guilty feelings. Calling a friend, taking deep breaths, or putting yourself in time out can be healthy ways to respond when your child says, “You’re the meanest parent ever!”

It’s okay to feel bad that your child feels upset. However, it’s important that you not spend a lot of time trying to justify your decision to your child. A brief explanation about your decision is sufficient and if your child whines, begs, or throws a temper tantrum, be willing to ignore those bids for attention. Use selective ignoring and don’t provide any positive reinforcement until your child behaves appropriately.

4. Accept that No Parent is Perfect

There will be times that you make poor decisions as a parent. Perhaps, you’re too strict some days. Or maybe there are times you allow your child to get away with something simply because you want to avoid confrontation.

But, remember to give yourself a break.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent and no two children are the same. Discipline is often a process of trial and error and over time, you can learn from your mistakes. The most important thing is that you continue to sharpen your parenting skills and work hard to help your child gain the skills he needs to become a responsible adult.

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