As a parent, the discipline challenges of each day can feel all encompassing. With continual reminders and the overall balancing act of keeping a busy schedule, it can be easy to lose track of your long-term goals as a parent. Desires for your child as they mature can seem out of reach in the focus of daily tasks. Despite the difficulty, there are a few simple changes you can make to bring character development into your every day parent-child interactions.
The first small change consists of adjusting your mindset to see every challenge as an opportunity for growth. Little moments are the stepping-stones for building character. Even your mistakes as a parent can turn into opportunities to model to your child how to humbly apologize and reconcile. This mindset change can alter your attitude and actions when you approach your child in a matter of discipline. With this mindset, daily conflicts morph from being an annoyance to opportunities to teach your child values and lessons that will benefit them as a student, spouse, and even parent someday.
Another way character development can be integrated into every day life is focusing on the teaching aspect when disciplining your child. The word “discipline” actually means to teach. Often when we think of discipline, punishment is the first thing to come to mind, but this focus can miss the importance of long-term growth. One easy way to add teaching to your day is to intentionally take a few minutes to talk to your child after a conflict. This is best done once both you and your child are emotionally regulated and consequences are completed (ex. Taking a break, picking up what was broken). Take a few minutes with your child to talk about the situation, their motives and desires, and what could be done differently next time. If genuine in the moment, share encouragement with your child, telling them your hopes and dreams for them for the future.
Lastly, reflect on your example as a parent. Children are learning from watching your actions on a daily basis. How are you speaking about others? How do you act when it is only you and your child? Are your words and expectations consistent with your actions? It can be humbling to look at our actions as parents, especially if we see our struggles mirrored in our children’s behaviors. With a growth mindset, you can look at your shortcomings as opportunities to model for your children how you are also working on character development. Simple moments and changes can be transformative in your child’s character development, teaching invaluable skills for the future!
Written by Courtney Thompson, MA, LPC
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