3. CHILDREN WHO WON’T TOE THE LINE
In the same way as children test boundaries in the respect department, they are also likely to test them in the obedience arena. It’s worthy of remembering that children can only be obedient if they have something to be obedient about – in other words they need rules, guidelines, boundaries and structures. No-one can blame a child for stepping over the line if he or she doesn’t know where that line is. This makes it essential that the line (rules, boundaries and structures) are made abundantly clear to the child. As children are often quite forgetful - and especially if they don’t have such rules and boundaries in their other home - it is vital that he or she be reminded gently, kindly and often of the rules that exist in your house.
Important guidelines on rules are:
§ They need to be appropriate to your circumstance and to the age of the children.
§ They need to be reasonable, sensible and sustainable.
§ There shouldn’t be too many.
§ They need to be enforceable.
§ The parent needs to be willing and able to monitor them.
§ The parent needs to be willing and able to enforce them even if it means that for a while their life will be more difficult.
§ They need to understand that their child is not likely to accept rules and boundaries without struggle (especially if these are not imposed on them in their other home); that this is normal and does not mean that their children will ‘fight’ them or ‘hate’ them for ever.
The benefits of rules are that children:
§ Are being taught important life-skills and life-lessons.
§ Are being provided with a sense of safety and security.
§ Are being shown that they are greatly cared for.
§ Are taught self-control.
§ Are helped to grow into teachable, likable and responsible adults.To purchase the booklet wrote on effective discipline in a stepfamily environment ($15), please email Sonja.