3 tips for agreeing on child discipline (and what to do when the other parent undermines your authority)

If you're married or have children, you already know that the television show The Brady Bunch lied to you.

Married or divorced or single with children, one of the more difficult parenting skills to master is compromising when mom and dad don't agree. Because we all come from different households and backgrounds, combining two parenting styles into one home can be tricky. But staying a united front, whether married or not, can be very helpful in raising well-behaved children. At the very least, it might help you keep your sanity.

Therapist and family counselor says parenting discipline disagreements is a common source of conflict with many couples. She even admits that she and her husband went through that same struggle. If you're going through this now, you are certainly not alone. Its normal, she says. What makes you stand apart from other couples is how you handle it.

It's OK to have parenting differences, Hanks says. Children can learn to navigate different parenting rules with each parent. Children do that frequently when their parents are divorced or living apart."

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Tips for agreeing on discipline:

1. Talk about the disagreement privately. Don't correct, interfere with other parent's discipline (unless the child is in danger).

2. Negotiate with your spouse who will take the lead in disciplining the child in different situations. Base those areas around which parent feels more strongly about certain behaviors. For example, in my home, I'm more strict when it comes to bedtime and my husband is more lenient. I care more that the kids get enough sleep and get to bed on time so I take the lead in making sure that happens, and disciplining when our kids aren't listening.

3. The parent who started the discipline should finish it. If one parent grounds a child from TV for misbehavior, that same parent should be the one to lift the TV ban. Don't try to rescue your child from their other parent's discipline styles.

Tips for when a parent undermines your discipline:

1. Talk about it! Don't let those negative feelings build up and create a bigger marital issue.

2. Lead with your feelings. It's easy to accuse and blame the other parent. Use "I feel______" statements instead of "You always_______" or start the conversation with blaming questions like, "Why do you always undermine me when I put Johnny in time out? I hate that!"

3. Decide on a simple cue to let the other parent know that they're undermining. Couples can decide ahead of time a word or phrase to cue the other parent to step back and stop undermining.

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Posted in Health and Medical Post Date 12/19/2015






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