Rebellion and violence are complicated issues. Your home can be free of rebellion and violence but you must start early to teach positive attributes and set the tone for your home. In my book, Discipline Exposed, I give 25 reasons children are out of control. Often children rebel or become discipline problems because they are afraid. Fear is a natural consequence when you don’t understand what you are supposed to do. Children don’t want to be punished or reprimanded, but if they aren’t clear on the definition of right and wrong, if they are uncertain about how to make good decisions or if they don’t know how to properly get what they need – they will turn to rebellion or violence. Doubt about your life will cause everything from depression to out of control behavior.
If you are confused about right and wrong your children will not accept discipline. You can’t teach what you don’t understand. You can’t make logical or consistent rules if you aren’t sure of their validity. If you don’t believe in the TRUTH that your rules are based on, neither will your child.
If your inability to know the TRUTH causes you to break house hold rules, your child will feel he’s living in an unfair house. If it’s right for your child, it has to be right for you as well. You must practice what you teach and become your family’s expert. You must be able to explain how the world works and why.
Again, we are not perfect and we will make mistakes. Try to save the mistake ratio for the little annoyances that sprinkle through your day. Don’t break obvious life changing rules and expect your child to be perfect. When you make poor choices, so will your child.
For example, I was counseling with a parent who was horrified that their child cheated on a test. I started by asking questions like, “Have you ever cheated on your taxes? Have you ever stayed home to be with your family but told your boss you were sick?” After a few minutes the parent became hostile. “I’m not here for me, I’m here for a kid who doesn’t understand honesty!”
“But Dad, I softly replied….if you’ve done those things chances are your son has heard you talk about them. In his mind, if Dad can cheat by not returning change that he shouldn’t have received – then why can’t your son steal a few answers to a really hard question? Add the fact that you went ballistic without finding out why he felt that way and it’s easy to understand his frustration. You’ve complicated his world and he is totally confused about honesty at this point. Either you live honesty in front of your child or he won’t live it at all.”
Right and wrong must be explained and then it must be the same for every member of the family. Otherwise, life is not fair and children will rebel.
By the same token, if you have not prepared your child for difficult situations, doubt, pain, sorrow and situations that force them into seeming failure – you are in effect causing them to become violent or rebellious adults.
SO….as a good parent….show them your difficulties, heartaches, sorrows and disappointments and how you resolved the conflict with honor and grace. Give them an example to follow. Then teach them how to get up and try again. Allow them to fail and give them the grace they need to make another attempt – and another – and another – and another….. Be there – together – and erase all doubts about the validity of success in their life.