As we entered 2017, I read so many social media posts declaring 2016 a difficult year for so many people. One major theme I noticed was that people felt out of control in certain aspects of their lives.
The stress of Christmas is certain to have attacked most households, and after this week we probably all will have spoiled our children and grandchildren just a little and maybe even put on some extra weight from all of the holiday cookies. It is time to start thinking about the changes we want to make in the New Year and set goals for the entire family. In addition to the diet and workout goals you may be considering, let me encourage you to adopt one or all of the following resolutions for discipline in your home this year:
1. Your children will use manners at all times regardless of their age. From the time they start talking, children can be taught the proper use of “please” and “thank you” and it should never stop at age 4, 9, 16 or 20. Better yet, make sure you are still showing them manners when you converse with them or others out there in the community.
2. This is the year you stop solving all of your children’s homework issues. Stop e-mailing their teacher over trivial issues and let them do their job. Let them be responsible for their homework deadlines and let them fail if they refuse to take responsibility. If you continue to protect them from learning what defeat feels like, they will never be able to handle the real world. Hesitate to blame anybody for an average grade. Let your child take responsibility for his lack of hard work.
3. Discipline doesn’t require yelling or hitting. If you need to use those tools, then you might have a discipline problem of your own. Of course, we all lose our cool every now and again, but consistent and structured discipline doesn’t require anything out of control. Resolve to change the language in your household and you will discover that discipline can be meaningful and rewarding for both you and your child.
4. Don’t give in to over-scheduling your child to the point of over-exhausting everyone. This is a big resolution for us this year as we seem to always fall into this trap. We had too many nights of scheduled events and not enough time at home as a family. We had too many rushed dinners and not enough time for playing games or building puzzles. Don’t be afraid to be the parent that limits your child so that there really is some down time for your family. I watched my oldest son’s friends go off to college and 99 percent of them were burned out from years of sports and have no desire to continue. Even the ones that could! They want to focus on their careers and education – imagine that!
5. Learn to say no and hold no. Don’t give in to the pressures of social media or the need for small children to be burdened with the responsibilities of cell phones. I recently attended a wedding and the “kids” table at the reception had 12 children all on their phones the entire time. They never spoke to each other or enjoyed the evening at all. They were all stuck in a trance of some game they were playing. Don’t be afraid to take their phones and encourage real interaction. They won’t succeed in life without understanding how to communicate appropriately with their peers.
6. Turn off the violent video games. There is not one good thing you can possibly think will come from these. There are so many positive game choices out there for young men and young women. Try Just Dance 2017! It’s fun and even involves exercise, which our children need so badly to be healthy and happy.
7. Feel like you can nurture yourself or your marriage. Your children don’t need to be with you 24 hours every day. It is OK to ask them to give you space to focus on yourself or your marriage. Don’t just throw them on the X-box to accomplish this. Have them go outside and ride their bikes or read a book. They will thank you later for taking care of their mind and their health.
I personally plan to try to focus on every one of these in the year 2017 and make sure all seven of our children stay grounded in what is important – family, friends, education and health. A disciplined life will involve a healthy mix of all of these important elements. Parenting is a blessing and a huge responsibility and I look forward to the challenges that 2017 will bring. Find success with one of these resolutions or all of them and I guarantee you will be a happier person when we ring in 2018!
Katie Coombs is the host of the radio show “Uncommon Sense with Katie Coombs.” You can reach her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UncommonSenseKC/.