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Discipline - how does one get over being weak-willed when it comes to your children?

(19 Posts)
NotMissWhiplashBut Tue 09-Jun-09 09:15:35

Namechange is to reflect that I don't want THAT kind of discpline winkhmm but I do need SOMETHING!

I have generally been quite weak-willed and lacked self-discipline my whole life - didn't learn how to revise/study so didn't do brilliantly academically despite teachers always insisting I had the potential to do much better.

I was a size 10 without an ounce of fat at 16 and then a rolypoly 16 by age 19 from just no will power when it came to the greedy things in life. Now, I could do with losing a few pounds and doing some exercise but it's so much easier after a long day to just slump.

So far, so blah grin

But now, I am finding that my constant tendency to take the easy option is going to affect my toddler and anybody else who comes along in time and I want to change NOW.

E.g. when he is whining for another biscuit, I want to give it to him rather than say no.

In particular at night, when I just want to get back to sleep it seems easier to bring him back to my bed even though what I really want is for him to sleep all night through in his cot.

How do I change the habits of a lifetime to ensure that I am able to be the mother that DS needs and maybe become the person that I can be?

Sorry, this is longer than I planned and I'm sure there are no easy answers but wonder if anyone else out there feels the same
Thanks for reading.

CherryChoc Tue 09-Jun-09 09:25:51

Will be watching as I feel similar, DS is too young at the moment for it to matter.

seeker Tue 09-Jun-09 09:33:19

I think with children the first thing to do is to pick your battles. There are some you HAVE to win - like not running into the road. There are some it would be desirable to win, like not giving the a biscut EVERY time they ask. And there are those that really aren't a second's battle - like them coming into your bed when they want/need to. Once you've decided which are your HAVE to win ones, work on those, then if you feel so inclined, move on to the desirable ones.

Here endeth Slackmum's lesson for the day!

BonsoirAnna Tue 09-Jun-09 09:42:34

I think that the OP hits the nail on the head: you largely pass on your own strength of will/self-control to your children, and you lead by example.

If you live an organised life in an organised home with civilised behaviour, your DC will internalise that as the norm.

BonsoirAnna Tue 09-Jun-09 09:43:54

I think seeker's point is very good too: you need to work out your priorities. There is no point being manic about not giving second biscuits if your child is otherwise totally out of control.

flashharriet Tue 09-Jun-09 09:44:30

Interesting - Anna, what would be the best way for the OP to change those bad habits?

BonsoirAnna Tue 09-Jun-09 09:54:22

I think you just have to really want to! And, like everything in life, it's a lot of hard work and you need to prioritise and work on one thing at a time.

giantkatestacks Tue 09-Jun-09 09:57:47

I think you have to work on your awareness - so you dont sleepwalk through parenting but try to be aware of all your actions. Easier said than done I know.

And of course keeping your long term goals in mind - so if your long term goal is for them to sleep 'better' then not bringing them into bed for the short term fix - if your long term goal is them being less whiny then not giving in when they whine etc.

puffylovett Tue 09-Jun-09 10:00:17

Ooh I could have posted this, will watch with interest.

However, as for passing on our own self control to our children, I'll have to disagree ! MY olds are both v self disciplined, organised, good with money, I was disciplined etc etc - and I am the complete opposite hmm

Maybe I just rebelled ! I don't know.. I just try to do what feels right for my family and try not to beat myself up too often when I give in to LO when soemtimes I think I should be discipling him..

pagwatch Tue 09-Jun-09 10:02:45

I would try and remember that your child is not you.
You may perceive yourselfto be weak willed but our children frequently turn up with their own ideas. I am pretty weak willed but my son is incredibly competetive and sprty and determined. I soemtimes look at him and wonder whose child he actually is grin

I believe children need structure and consequences rather than 'discipline'. You are viewing the alternative to whining about a biscuit as a "no" followed by a tantrum and the end result being you're feeling bad.
I draw firm boundaries but I generally do it without conflict. A request for an extra biscuit at a young age was usually answered with "no - one/two biscuits are always enough but there are always more tickles" followed by distraction.
I explain the rules as we go ( where needed) - and ,like seeker, only have the fights worth having.

It is a common misconception that every no has to involve conflict when actually it doesn't. You just say 'no' and walk away. A child can only argue and tantrum if you engage with that behaviour. My DD used to get marks out of ten for the quality of her hissy fits ( "excellent tantrumming there Moo but sadly the answer remains no").
Just remember that a no does not crush your child. It is just the same as any other form of learning. You are just teaching them what is reasonable and positive.

The other thing I do is look at the teenager threads occasionally to remember where endless giving in ends up grin
<<sigh>> actually I have a teenager and soon will have two so examples are somewhat closer to home grin

giantkatestacks Tue 09-Jun-09 10:09:25

Agreed pagwatch - good post.

I would add that I think it depends on your inbuilt response to the tantrums as well - mine was always laughter and/or slight annoyance whereas some of my friends would rush over as if their child was in pain. Am not being judgey because its very hard to change that instinctive response. In fact I feel a bit of a cow often that my response isnt to give them a hug when they are having a hissy fit and try and talk them out of it but just walk away.

What I am trying to say is that it might be easier for some of us because our instinctive response is to be like that whereas others would have to consciously behave like it? I havent explained this very well tsk.

BonsoirAnna Tue 09-Jun-09 10:54:52

The whole point about self-control/being strong-willed is that it is about overcoming your instinctive response through consciousness. It's not about "my children having different instincts to me"; it's about modelling desirable rational behaviours.

Of course, some people are naturally more ordered than others and will find it easier. But that doesn't change the fact that all parents need to model self-control for their children in order to teach it effectively.

NotMissWhiplashBut Wed 10-Jun-09 14:32:32

Wow, thanks for all the replies - and grin that a couple of you are watching as in the same boat - I just always feel like "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"hmm - how do I change them into good deeds iykwim?!!

Anna - you are right, my mother lacks any kind of will power, and I have followed suit. (even though my dad has been a huge success down to his drive and self-discipline). I know my brother (who has taken after my mother more than me blush) finds it hard to live up to him because he doesn't have the same ability/aptitude to "apply" himself at my dad.

I like the tip about marking tantrums out of 10 but that it's not going to change my response and will bear that in mind.

I also agree about picking battles - I guess it's just a case of working out what the priorities are and trying to work out a plan of action. (Could apply that to my poor diet too!) grin

Acinonyx Wed 10-Jun-09 20:12:04

I sympathise. It's tough. I think discipline is my greatest weakness as a parent and dh might be even worse. I don't do well with discipline, rules or boundaries myself and my own upbringing was inconsistent and chaotic with unpredictable rages, screaming and smacking.

NotMissWhiplashBut Wed 10-Jun-09 22:49:17

Bumping for the late crowd? (guess the really disciplined would go to bed early though winkgrin

Twinklemegan Wed 10-Jun-09 23:00:51

I would absolutely echo seeker's post. That is exactly my mantra. Save your energy for the things that really matter. The most important thing of all is consistency.

Mintyy Wed 10-Jun-09 23:12:02

I keep reminding myself that being a parent is a tough job. And that although I am not being paid to do it, in some respects I should treat it like paid employment. Ie. take it seriously and try to do it to the best of my ability. On matters of minor discipline, I just decided quite early on, when my first dc was about two I guess, that if I said "no" I would stick to my guns, so I had to be absolutely certain that I meant "no" when I first said it.

I let my ds sleep in my bed almost every night from age 3 to 3 and a half because he seemed to need it.

But I wouldn't let him have a third biscuit if I'd said two is enough.

That all makes me sound like some terrible killjoy, but I am not. I am a fun mum and rarely shout and never smack. My dcs and I have a riot together and I love them to pieces.

I just stick to my guns and have decided not to be lazy about parenting (I am shockingly lazy in many other aspects of my life, don't worry).

simplesusan Fri 12-Jun-09 21:44:55

I agree with a lot of what has been said.
Try to remember that being a parent is a tough job for everyone, even those who seem to manage it quite well!

I would advise to always try and stick by what you say. This is much easier if , like Seeker said, you pick your battles or prioritise for what feels right for you.
Don't fall into the trap of seemingly constantly saying no. Decide where your boundaries lie.
For example does it matter that much if your child gets into bed with you? For me I let this go. Probably the same with the biscuit. However I do not allow my children to ever hit without consequence or allow them to speak to me in a derogatory manner, ever.
If you threaten a consequence then make sure you see it through otherwise your child will assume you do not mean what you say and will push the boundaries.
Try and be realistic with consequences, make sure you don't end up punishing yourself or others, easier said than done sometimes.
Most of all try and relax you are not a bad parent.

Triggles Sun 14-Jun-09 18:28:08

My kids (the older ones) always got "No is the END of the conversation, not the beginning." This started when they went through that stage of thinking that NO meant the negotiations would now begin. I don't think so!

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