3 Tough Love Parenting Strategies


tough love parenting

The ultimate goal is for your children to impose a little tough love, self-discipline on themselves down the road: to get out of bed each day and report to work, to pass on that dessert and hit the gym, to manage their finances well. Help your child be able to do that by building these 12 character traits every child needs to develop.

As parents, we’re hard-wired to protect our children from harm–even from momentary discomfort. But sometimes those moments of disappointment or frustration are necessary to drive home important lessons. For some strong-willed children, nothing but tough love gets through. Here are some ways you might use tough love to overcome problems with your kids. Try these 3 tough love parenting strategies to help them master new skills, gain self-discipline, and learn important lessons through natural consequences.

1. The forgetful child.

If one of yours is the chronic forgetter of homework, leaver of lunch boxes, and loser of jackets, some tough love may be in order. When your child calls in a panic from school to ask you to bring the missing assignment, think long and hard about it–especially if this is a recurring problem. Let him or her take the zero, along with all the standard correction at home that comes with a low grade. Let her go without lunch and be hungry for a few hours. Natural consequences are excellent teachers–let them do their job.

2. The disobedient child.consequence calculator

If your child persistently breaks the rules you’ve established for him, you may need to ban the very thing he wants badly enough to disobey. For instance, if you’ve set a limit on video gaming to one hour per day but he ignores it and plays longer, the gaming system probably needs to disappear for a good while. This principle could also be used to make sure that phone usage stays within the boundaries you permit. Your child will learn that the cost of breaking the rules is far greater than the temporary pleasure of breaking them. Not sure which correction is most appropriate? Check out iMOM’s Consequence Calculator for some help in deciding.

3. The lazy child.

We all have one kid or more who absolutely hates chores or work of any kind. This is another instance where the antidote may be that very thing she’s trying to avoid which only grows when she ignores it. For every chore that’s skipped, another gets added to the list. If the chores are not done by a set time, privileges are lost (hanging out with friends, using technology) until the work is done. Help your child stay on track with one of our printable chore and responsibility charts. There are different versions appropriate for different ages.

The greatest challenge in tough love parenting is overcoming your own angst. We, as parents, love to see a report card with straight A’s, so forcing a child to eat the zero and deal with the consequences makes us uncomfortable. We hate the hassle of taking away privileges and devices, and we don’t exactly enjoy the process of policing household chores. But that’s parenting. A job that, by its very definition, is inconvenient when done right. But your children are worth it and the consequences they (and you) suffer now to learn the lessons needed are far less damaging and permanent than the ones they’ll endure to learn these things as adults.

Does your child struggle in another area? What is your tough love parenting strategy?

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