When children love you, it’s easy for us parents to love them.
Then they’re the days when Mom and Dad struggle to speak to them civilly…and the kids don’t even try.
Loving one’s progeny on those days takes creativity, perseverance, and strategy. Read on for encouraging tips.

“Every rebellious act is a kid’s cry, ‘Show me that I matter to you.’” Says Dr. Kevin Leman in Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Son gives mom homemade bouquet

Cooking fun with kids

Boy pouts at mother
Let your love be independent of behavior

Leman encourages parents to “avoid associating a child’s ‘goodness’ with how well he does a certain task.”

He gives the example of Justin who cleaned up the garden well. Mom praises him with “Justin, what a fine job. That must have taken a lot of work to clean up the yard! Thanks, honey.” She said he’s good AND—not because—he cleaned up the yard.

In discipline, also separate the child’s value from his behavior.

Leman suggests bringing closure to discipline time with a “follow up time” to “tell him you love him. Explain that there will be times when he will do things that are wrong, but even though he does these things you will never stop loving him and caring about him.”

Practice makes more perfect

Positive discipline, like any skill, gets easier with practice!

  • Try saying, “I love you.” Period.
    No “but,” “if,” or “when.”
  • Notice and comment on one positive action daily.
    “Thanks for saying thank you.”
    “You helped with a positive attitude. It’s a sign of responsibility. I noticed.”
    “Today you washed your hands without my having to remind you.”
  • Avoid praise overdose by keeping your appreciation genuine.
  • Specific observations favor naturalness and honesty.  “Great job” and “Awesome” require rooting in context to take on meaning.
  • After discipline, recognize a changed attitude.
    “It’s a pleasure to see you smile.”  
    “Thank you for speaking so respectfully.”
    Give a hug and exchange a loving word while preparing dinner or at bedtime.