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parenting tips

Am I too wishy-washy?

Most parents don't worry about being too strict--they think they're too lenient instead. Do you wonder if your parenting style is too wishy-washy? If the following scenes sound like they could take place in your house, you may need to work on being more authoritative.

Five Signs That You're Wishy-Washy:

  1. You tell your five-year-old that you want him in bed with the lights out by 8 p.m. every night, but he tends to protest so much that it's usually 9 by the time he gets to bed. You always end up feeling angry at him, and at yourself.
  2. When your children fight over the TV, you get mad and tell them that there will be no TV for three days. However, you end up relenting after one day.
  3. You're at the store, and your daughter starts whining and begging for a lollipop at the checkout counter, even though it's against your rules about candy. You give in because you're too tired to argue and you don't want her to make a scene.
  4. You don't approve of your son playing violent war games on his computer. But when he complains that he's the only one in his class who isn't allowed to play the newest game, you feel pity for him and relent.
  5. Before you let your child go on a play date, you want to find out who will be in charge and whether the kids will be watching unsupervised TV, but you're too embarrassed to ask the parent or caregiver, so you let it go.

Sound familiar? It's important to strike a balance between being too strict and being too permissive. When my sons were young, I discovered that I had a much easier time enforcing a rule when I believed in it so thoroughly that I didn't care whether they liked it or not. One example was nap or quiet time. I knew that if I didn't have one hour of peace every afternoon, I wouldn't be fit to live with. The boys seemed to sense that I wasn't going to bend on that rule and didn't even try to argue. However, they could sense when there were rules that I didn't care that much about, like taking daily baths.

It is impossible to set serious limits when you are even the least bit ambivalent about them. Your children will be more cooperative about abiding by hard-and-fast rules when they see that you can be lenient in other matters that aren't as important to you.


More Solutions to Parents' FAQs can be found in Nancy's books and articles found below.

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Find out the traits of a spoiled child and learn to show love without spoiling.

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