Maintaining Your Parental Authority

Smiling Mother and Daughter - Parental AuthorityParental Authority: When your child breaks the rules, it is normal to feel your authority as a parent slipping away. Like most parents, you have tried just about everything. Worst of all, probably, none of it worked.

It is an easy way out to punish a child when they have broken your parenting rules. Basically, you are simply trying to convey the message that you have broken the rules that we have set. Hence, as a parent, you need to listen to me or else you will be punished. Unfortunately, this is hogwash. You will be surprised or are already aware that punishment is not the effective way to change or transform behavioral patterns. As a kid, he or she is bound to react and oppose any form of punishment, if they feel is unjust and a majority think that way.

Hence, the best way is to use a constructive way to reassert your parental authority, which is sure to work.

Authoritative parenting styles.

Parents, who are generally authoritative, are likely to draw up a clear set of rules and limits that must be followed. The parenting rules will be enforced whether the kids like it or not. This does not imply that a parent is behaving like a dictator. It is just that the authoritative parent feels that his parenting style is the most effective approach to teach their child to behave better.

The reality unfortunately does not think that way – mainly because, punishments are no incentives for a child to behave better or to behave differently. Hence, you feel that no matter what you do, nothing really changes. On the contrary, if the child understands that in order to get what they want is that they should behave better or improve the behavior. Then your chances to succeed are better.

What is an effective consequence?

To state it simply, an effective consequence or outcome is one that is task specific, followed by time specific, and is connected to the behavior that you would like to change.

Task-specific would mean that there is something specific that the child has to complete and which is related to the original problem. Otherwise, they are just doing time. In simple terms, just waiting out the period until their privileges and benefits are restored.

Time-specific would imply that the amount of time required by the child to change. In other words, the time allotted to the child to complete a certain amount of tasks. It should not be too long, where the child loses interest and gives up.

Remember, it is not effective to remove privileges for unspecified periods.  If you take something away for six or even three months, it would seem like eternity for a child, making the whole thing meaningless.

It should also be connected to the behavior that you are trying to change. Unless and until they show some form of remarkable improvement, there is no point in the whole exercise.

The drawbacks of using specific occasions as a consequence.

The thought of cancelling a holiday or a party in order to get even with your child will definitely see no improvement in their behaviors. In fact, it can have serious negative consequences. Effective consequences need the child to show some remarkable improvement in order to earn certain benefits. Besides, once the special event or occasion is over, there is no way for your child to earn it back.

For example, don’t ever try and mess with certain specific events such as a 16th birthday party, or the prom or a New Year party. These special moments must not be tampered with, as it cannot come again.

How to change a consequence without losing parental authority.

Firstly, remember that your parental authority is not linked to a badly planned out consequence. You must remember that a parental authority is a long-term and well planned out venture. You must try and retain that by remaining calm and consistent. Don’t try to enforce or become authoritative, everything should be through a calm and open dialogue.

Try to establish short-term goals for a long-term behavioral change.

Instead of long-term curfew that can be for three to six months, try to establish short-term goals. Small steps in the right direction will be far effective than long-term curfews. This gives the child a chance to show some form of improvement.

What if your child does not seem to get the message?

Do not make the consequence too harsh, in order to get them to take it seriously. Remember, it is not about punishing your child. It is all about encouraging periodical improvement in their behavior.  Harsh and severe consequences are simply not effective. Instead, try task and time-sensitive consequences. Harsh or severe punishments often lead to power struggles and resentment that crop up later as control dramas. It is definitely not the result that a parent would be looking for.

As a parent, your goal should be to rear a child who will respond to parental limits, accept responsibilities, and demonstrate behavior so that they become mature adults. Using your parental authority wisely, will establish effective consequences that will help get them where they want.

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