Parents get frustrated. Kids misbehave. You could probably throw those two nuggets in with the certainty of death and taxes.
In case you didn’t notice, I mentioned parents before children. Parents are the adults, so they have more responsibility. These responsibilities include providing food, shelter, clothing, etc. But just as important are the responsibilities of love, modeling good behavior and healthy habits, and appropriate emotional expression. Parents are supposed to behave and control their emotions before expecting that from their kids.
Of course, emotions parents have are often related to the misbehavior of their children. As a parent and therapist, I am very good at managing and/or hiding my emotions at work or in public. At home, I am not quite as good at managing my emotions. I’m not a raving lunatic or anything like that, but I do have flashes of frustration or anger daily. My kids are 4 and 1, and they do things they aren’t supposed to do. And that will frustrate me if I don’t find them really cute at the moment.
So when it comes to discipline, it is crucial to separate your emotions from acts of discipline. Children must understand that they are being sent to their room for a time-out because their behavior was out of line, not because the adult was upset. Once a child thinks the reason is linked to emotions, he/she will learn to work that angle quite well as they grow into their adolescent years. No wonder so many parents/guardians feel manipulated and that their children don’t make sense.
Be deliberate and consistent in telling your child he/she is important and valued after being sent to a time-out for misbehavior. Concentrate on disciplining the behavior and then support and compliment your child personally. Kids and teens (yes, teens too) need to get the message, “This behavior isn’t acceptable, but you are accepted.” Another important message they need to hear is, “Even when I’m mad, I still love you.” For those of you who really struggle with confidence when it comes to applying appropriate discipline, remember this: Children need unconditional love, not unconditional tolerance of behavior.