Are your kids difficult to manage? Do you fight battles with them every day? Do they push your boundaries and drive you nuts?
While there are always two sides to every story, it may be that you are provoking your kids without realizing it.
Here are some ways provoking your kids happens: [i]
2. Be a hypocrite. Have different expectations for yourself than for your kids. Make “Do as I say and not as I do” your motto.
3. Don’t keep your promises. Teach your kids to mistrust your word by rarely following through on what you say you will do.
4. Demand too much of them. Expect perfection. Expect performance beyond their ability or without proper training.
5. Over protect them. Limit their freedom and independence no matter how old they are. Make all their decisions for them. Don’t allow them to make mistakes and learn from their failures.
6. Bombard them with words. Instead of giving appropriate consequences, lecture your kids for long periods of time.
7. Abuse them verbally. Bark out orders. Yell at them when they make mistakes. Always talk in a harsh tone. Call them names, tell them they are a failure.
8. Make discipline too severe. Give consequences that far outweigh the misdemeanour.
9. Show favouritism. Give unequal disciplines for similar violations. Compare them to their siblings. Respond harshly to one child and sweetly to another for the same infraction.
10. Embarrass them. Disrespect your kids by correcting them in front of others – particularly their teenage friends. Talk openly about their weaknesses and mistakes to others.
11. Give no time warnings. Never give advance warning that their play time is almost over. Expect them to stop what they are doing immediately. (All within reason since life sometimes demands that we stop what we are doing without warning. Teach your kids to respond to disappointments with a good attitude.)
12. Try to be their buddy. You can’t be both parent and buddy. This is not to say that you can’t play with your kids or share their secrets, but don’t allow them to treat you like a buddy – disrespecting you, teasing you, correcting you, or playfully calling you names. When you turn around and exercise firm authority over them in some area they will feel confused – are they equal or subordinate?
13. Withhold firm discipline and proper training. A lack of clear boundaries makes children insecure. Allowing them to make decisions for themselves that are beyond their emotional maturity will produce anxiety in them and make them difficult to manage.
14. Discipline inconsistently. Enforcing rules inconsistently sets unclear boundaries – which beg to be violated. The temptation to risk violating your standards leaves kids insecure and anxious. If you make a rule – enforce it. Otherwise your kids will be stressed trying to figure out when to take you seriously.
15. Assert parental authority weakly. Draw a line with your words but then allow your kids to step over it. If you say “No” then stick to it. If you allow your kids to bring up the subject again and again and eventually cave in then they will always be testing to see how far you can be pushed. There is no rest for them (or you) in this.
16. Consistently believe evil of them. Look at them suspiciously whenever you are with them. Communicate your lack of trust in them. Expect them to always be doing something wrong.
17. Do not listen to them. Give your kids no opportunity to express their opinions, complaints, or frustrations. Don’t allow them to speak their mind – even respectfully.
18. Never communicate approval. Find fault with everything they do. Never allow them to think they have satisfied you. Don’t praise them or say encouraging things when they do well.
19. Neglect them. Always be too busy to give your kids positive time. Give them attention only when they need discipline.
20. Overindulge them. Grant them so many of their wishes that they will think they are owed everything and will appreciate nothing.
“And, ye fathers (and mothers), provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)
Are you provoking your kids? What do you need to change?
[i] Adapted from Child Training Tips, Reb Bradley