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Discipline Insights for Parents

It’s not how much I love my child that matters . . . What really matters is how much my child loves me!

In spite of the attention our media rightfully gives to cases of horrific child neglect and abuse, the truth is it’s only a miniscule percentage of parents who do these terrible things.  Nearly every parent loves his or her child.  What parent isn’t profoundly touched by their child’s birth!  But did you know that loving your child is not enough?  What’s of far greater importance for positive parenting outcomes is not how much parents love their child, but how much the child loves their parents.  Understanding this makes all the difference to parent discipine!

To illustrate, can you remember back to your school days and how you behaved with different teachers?  I’d imagine you were an angel for those teachers you liked . . . but for those you didn’t like your behaviour and attitude deteriorated.  The reason for the difference is because students want to be good for those teachers they like.  It works the same way for parents!  If your kids like you they will want to be good for you. This is the key to discipline! It sounds simple but it is so easily forgotten and overlooked.

Wanting to be good for just anyone is not a genetic trait your child is born with. Believing your child should properly behave simply because you are their parent is a false assumption and leads to disappointment.  While it’s not inborn within the child to be well behaved, it is instinctive to want to please those we love.  When a parent can create within their child a desire to love them, they will see a beautifully maturing child who wants to please.  Children love those they feel emotionally close to.  And what’s even better is children want to be good for those they feel close to.  That’s why when it comes to children thriving what really counts is, “How much does my child really love me?”

Of course to feel loved a child needs a loving parent.  But for the child to love the parent it needs a different context.  To help a child feel loved the parent must be child centred, which means they are aware of and understand the special needs of their child.  When the parent is responsive to these needs the child develops strong love connections with their parent.  When you see your child through their eyes and try to enter their world and their senses – see through their eyes, hear through their ears, and feel through their touch – the child feels valued and significant.  This sense of belonging fills up their love cup and it overflows in good behaviour.  So work harder on your child feeling loved than on simply saying how much you love them.  It makes all the difference for discipline.  Our website is full of ways you can strengthen the parent-child relationship and enhance the effectiveness of your discipline.


See our articles & interventions on the Alpha Child and the Strong Willed Child for more information.

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