Wow, this boundaries class is really good. I would highly recommend to parents to buy the book, Boundaries For Kids. It is such a great tool to have in your parenting arsenal. We’ve all said it before…we wished that children came with a “How to” manual. Oh, but wait, there are many of those on the bookshelves at the store. They just don’t come at the hospital when you take the baby home. I know you are busy parents but the things in this book may save you a lot of pain and heartache when put into practice. Now, on to what I’ve learned this week.
Motives drive our behaviors. We ultimately want our children to WANT to do the right things for the right reason, not because we will punish them if they don’t. Doing something to avoid punishment is a good motivator for a lot of things but having the moral character within is a better reason for most things in life.
Standing over our children and nagging them may win the battle but will lose the war. Kids will only stay in line while you are watching. External restraint must become a part of their character. Behavior that is externally driven is the mark of a child, not a young adult.
Tactics like guilt or loss of relationship will end up hurting more than helping a situation.
How do you help your children develop good motivation? First your child needs to be rooted and grounded in love. Love first, set limits second. Children can only grow when that connection is strong. Be empathetic, Give support and provide balance. This is what love means.
There are 4 stages of Motive Development
1 Fear of consequences – There are always consequences. Lack of allowing your child to experience the consequences of their actions will keep them in the child stage when we really want them to mature and grow. Stick with your boundaries, be fair but consistent and empathize with your child’s emotional reactions. When a child expresses that he is only doing something to avoid punishment, praise him/her and then help them to the next step.
2. An Immature Conscience – The next step is a child beginning to internalize his experiences with his/her relationships and this begins to develop their conscience. Your child is learning to be motivated to love and be good by internal forces, not just a swat on the behind. Stay consistent, love them and be attentive to changes in their behavior. If you are showing love, empathy and being supportive and balanced in your discipline, then a child will accept your boundaries and they will become theirs.
3. Values and Ethics – At some point, your child will begin to ask many value-laden questions. Be prepared and ready to explain what you believe about how people should conduct themselves in the world. Practice explaining the “why” in terms they will understand. As your child begins to work out his/her own ethics, keep bringing them back to reality principles like, “That goes against what you and we believe”.
4. Mature Love, Mature Guilt – Our ultimate goal is getting a child to move from the ethical questions of right and wrong to the highest motive: LOVE. Never over-criticize or withdraw love from your child. Children who are internalizing boundaries need to move beyond “this is wrong” to “This hurts others or God”. Your role is to help them freely choose who and how to love and to freely love.
There are 3 motives for Good Behavior – Don’t undervalue any of the these motives.
1. Pain of consequences for irresponsibility
2. The “rights and wrongs” of behavior
3. What pain his/her actions may cause his friends and God.
Happy Parenting!! – Mrs. T.