At Early Years, children disobey out of rejection of what they don’t like: a dish of food, going to sleep, not being able to play video games, among others.
As they grow, they disobey, not so much because they are being annoyed, but rather to protest against the idea of subordination contained in the notion of obedience. The content of the order matters less than the tone of voice of who gives it; that is to say, what matters is not so much, but how. This is the time to exercise special authority.
Authority should not be confused with authoritarianism. Family authoritarianism isn’t a good strategy. This occurs when parents exercise their authority without any reference to valid criteria, incongruously and as an expression of a privilege:
that of being parents and adults. In addition, it is accompanied by humiliating procedures for children such as physical punishment, punishment in public, insults, among others, it can awaken in children aggressive feelings that greatly complicates the situation.
On the other hand, there are also parents who do not exercise authority at all. This can be due to several reasons: fear of being seen as an old-fashioned parent, or «not cool» or not wanting to complicate life. This lack of attention dissapoints the children, because the authority of the parents is a necessary help for them. An overly tolerant and permissive environment has negative effects and is associated with impulsive, aggressive children who lack independence or a sense of responsibility.
We must encourage a style of authority that leads them to develop positive values. It is important that children don’t have the feeling that adults rule for personal comfort. Likewise, reasonable things must be demanded of children. In addition, the reasons for the rules must be explained to them.
Sometimes it will be necessary to complaint. You must consider the following :
- Choose the right moment.
- Look for circumstances that do not humble.
- Try to speak alone and in a good mood (this sometimes means waiting).
Putting yourself in their shoes.
- Use appropiate words of affection that remove any impression that it is corrected by personal displeasure.
- Show confidence that you will improve and correct inappropriate behavior.
Some tips for quarantine:
✔ Explain to them, that we as parents also feel frustrated and anxious about the situation we are going through.
✔ Find moments during the day in which everyone can share an activity with the family, without work, without cell phones and in the best disposition: a movie, a board game, etc. You have to pay attention to the good behaviors of your children to reinforce them.
✔ In this time of quarantine, the rules at home should be few, clear, and well understood by the child.
✔ Do not get carried away by the nervousness or stress of the moment, because the discipline to be used does not oppose good manners and tranquility.
✔ We have to explain to the children what is asked or required. Avoid arguments «because I said so», «I am your mother / father».
✔ It must be made clear to the child that it is their inappropriate behavior that makes them angry and displeased, but that they continue to love him as a person and a child.
✔ Parents should not do the things that children can do only taking into account their age as this affects their natural development
✔ Repeating orders without result, constantly intervening, being hesitant or lack of conviction and security in what is said are the most common causes of loss of authority.
References: Iturbe, I. (2014). Diamantes por pulir: el arte de educar de 7 a 12 años. España: Ediciones palabra
By Cristina Mendiola – Primary psychologist