Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

It is a parent’s job to set rules for their child to teach them. Sometimes children are very resilient to following the rules, but it is important for parents to stand by their decision.

There is an English law term known as a precedent. Stand in any courthouse in the U.K., and you will hear lawyers referring to past cases that are similar to the case being held. Rarely, but on occasion, a new case will arise, and something will happen that has never happened before. Someone will say “we want to set a precedent.” It sets the tone for the future and a foundation to build on.

Parents will have similar experiences with their children when it comes to establishing rules and boundaries. This usually starts in the early stages of parenting.

Parenting will have many firsts: first steps, first words, many of these are worth celebrating, but they’re also moments that will occur for the first time that every parent must discern as an opportunity to set a precedent. It will be set for better or worse.

This usually occurs in the first few years of childhood. The child will clash with the parent, but, for the sake of the child, the parent must win.

Not so long ago, my wife mentioned to me that our 1-year-old son, Daniel, refused to wear a bib at lunch. She put it on him, but he kept taking it off.

I inquired as to what she did, and she informed me that she gave up and let him eat without one. The problem with that is the next time she wants him to wear a bib, he will not. That night at dinner I put the bib on Daniel, and sure enough, he threw it off. I told him “no” and picked it up and put it back on him. He took it off again. I picked it up and put it back on him. This went on for about 45 minutes, both our meals were cold by this time. It was around the 143rd time the bib went on, he didn’t take it off.

Give in, and you teach your child that if they push and cry enough, they can get whatever they want.

The next day, I put his bib on him and he looked at me, saw the resilience in my eyes and ate his meal. We never had that issue again.

Daniel and I have set many precedents and had many battles. We sat on a shopping mall floor for an hour because he didn’t want to hold my hand. I spent 30 minutes standing in the rain with him until he picked up his rubbish and put it into the trash can. If you know what is best and safe for your child, you must have the strength to keep going.

Give in, and you teach your child that if they push and cry enough, they can get whatever they want. They are quick to learn this and will develop a lack of respect or consideration.

I have found that in those first few years you will face many first battles. Treat them as opportunities to teach your kids respect, kindness and politeness.

Toddlers are determined creatures, as parents we have to be more determined, it can be so easy to give up and let them do what they want.

I have seen so many kids not holding their parents’ hand near busy roads, not wearing a seatbelt, standing in a sunroof of a car, eating candy for breakfast or standing on the table in a restaurant, simply because that’s what they wanted to do.

Some people see spoilt kids. I see weak parents, who didn’t set a precedent when they had the chance and took the easy option. However, you reap what you sew.

The child that you let do whatever they wanted to will repay you by the time he reaches primary school, and you will have the bitter taste of a rebellious child that has no respect for you or any other adult.