Now that the kids are out of school, or your college adult child has moved home for the summer, parents are becoming anxious as schedules become disorganized and routines disrupted. In my Delray counseling office, Therapy by the Sea, parents often ask, “What is the most effective way to entertain my kids for the summer? How do I discipline my acting-out children or my defiant teen that has an attitude?”
Remember, you have a very precious, and valuable relationship with your child or teen, and a very limited amount of time to shape them into the adult you hope they will become. This relationship is one that must last forever; and any childhood traumas are carried into their adult relationships, so how you parent has a lasting emotional effect on their sense of self-esteem, happiness and ultimate success as an adult. Summer is the prime opportunity to create a fabulous relationship because the kids are out of school, or to grow a distant relationship into one with fond memories and close bonds.
Here are 6 tips to get you started:
- Focus on your child’s positive qualities and constructive behaviors.
- Praise them often when they are doing well.
- Do your best not to take their misbehavior personally and keep in mind that we all make mistakes – including your child. Teach them a better way.
- Explain clearly the house rules and what discipline the child can expect if the rules are broken. Summer rules should be more lax than in-school rules. However, kids ages 14 -17 should have some kind of part-time work – babysitting, helping a family friend in a store, restaurant or other business. Those over 18 should get a full-time job. They will be learning adult responsibilities and rules that come from the business world. They will become proud of their ability to earn some money for a doing well on a job. I suggest they spend and enjoy half, and save half for something meaningful – like a car or college fund. Younger children should have regular house chores as a “job” to help “the family team.”
- Take one vacation the whole family will enjoy, as well as plan family and individual activities for the kids – like music, sports or art camps. Do not over-do, but encourage creative arts and various adventures that are exciting and new. Have one family adventure a week, and be sure to schedule in a once-a-week parent date night, to give you two an enjoyable well-deserved break. Have regular play dates for the smaller kids; get them away from the computer, video games, and just sitting in front of the TV.
- Use the Allowance Chart for teens and do a Star Chart for children to encourage them to do their chores and follow house rules. This weekly chart states a reward for meeting their weekly goals, and a discipline if they do not meet the minimum requirement for the week.
Remember, you are the example and role model to your child. What they see at home, they will repeat or see as “normal.” So if you and your spouse are fighting, your child or teen will also rebel with anger and defiance (externalize) or shut down and become depressed (internalize). You must take steps now to improve your marital relationship so your home is calm, peaceful and loving.
The word Discipline is from the Bible; and it means, “to teach.” It is a part of The Positive Parenting approach that I coach my parent-clients to use to teach their children self-control and to make wise choices. Parents must learn to be more of a calm, enthusiastic teacher, not a yelling, demanding, or controlling tyrant. Positive discipline teaches children appropriate behavior, important values and corrects a child’s misbehavior. It is important that your child learn how to resolve conflicts by reasoning and negotiating, very crucial skills for their future success in life and relationships.
The most effective discipline helps children learn from the results of their actions, while preserving their self-respect. It minimizes power struggles and allows for the possibility of compromise. It is important to be firm, fair and consistent. Clear boundaries and expectations give them a sense of security and teach the consequences that can be expected for bad behavior, choices or attitudes. “Good” discipline could include removing TV, sending the child to his room or time-out chair, taking away their video games, computer, or phone for a teen.
Avoid physical and emotional punishment because itis more likely your child will be rebellious towards you when they reach adolescence. Abused children often are substance abusers as teens; teenage girls often engage in cutting, risky sexual behaviors, or develop eating disorders. You also increase the chances your child will be abusive to their own child one day.
If you are having power struggles or other problems, seek out a Relationship Coach or Family Therapist to help guide you with these issues. Read more tips and how to use these Behavioral Modification charts in the Parenting chapter of my book, Live Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success. Learn to use the Positive Parenting method to raise successful, happy children and young adults. It works great!