Parenting has an article out discussing 8 discipline mistakes parents make. I bet every mom or dad reading this has made at least one of them.
Lying to get out of an awkward question? check. Backing down on an ultimatum? check. Blowing your top? check. Undermining your coparent? check.
Yep, these are the everyday sins of parenting. I’ve done all of them. Once, I threw a pile of socks at my screaming preschooler.
I’m not proud of that. But I’m also far from alone. Family relationships cause friction, and sometimes we all behave badly.
It’s what you do about it afterwards that really counts. Here are three band-aids for fixing those parenting boo-boos.
- Admit your mistake. It’s OK to be wrong in front of your kids. Acknowledging your own mistakes helps them see that the rules and values you teach them are really important. Just like we expect our government and business leaders to be accountable to the same rules they set for everyone else, we need to show our kids that our standards of good behavior apply to everyone.
- Apologize. If you’ve done something wrong, apologize. Again, this will only bolster your authority, not undermine it. When I lose my cool with my kids, I always apologize when we’ve all calmed down. Even young children can understand that you’re apologize for your bad behavior, not condoning theirs.
- Make a plan to do better next time. There are two parts of this: the plan you make with your child, and the plan you make with your partner. When the kids and I get on each other’s nerves, we might have a brief, simple conversation about how to make better choices all around. If there’s a recurring conflict, or a larger issue at play, their dad and I have a private strategy session. We think about what the kids need from us to support the behavior we want to see from them, and make a clear plan about how we’ll help them get there.
No matter what your parenting style, these simple, honest approaches will help you and your kids smooth over the aftermath of a parenting mistake. What else should be on the list? How do you correct course when you’ve committed a parenting blunder?