Being Direct with Your Children

Often when we discuss the subject of healthy parenting, people think we mean parenting that is somewhat soft or so feeling-oriented that it becomes permissive. Their assumption could be that the children are allowed to get away with behavior that a more authoritative parenting style may not permit.  Nothing could be farther from the truth. See what we mean.

Direct Parenting: a major principle of parenting:

One major principle of healthy parenting is that parents should be direct.  As our Lakeside parenting expert, Diane Wagenhals writes, here is what we mean when we describe being direct:

Direct parenting is a major principle of healthy parenting.
Direct parenting is a major principle of healthy parenting.

Direct parenting involves telling a child specifically what he or she is expected to do or stop doing. It is giving a direction.

When being direct, do not beat around the bush. Get to the point without being rude, harsh or discourteous.

The more direct we are, the clearer we are and the more likely it is that the child will understand what he or she is expected to do or not do.

When we are direct, we do not have to intimidate a child in order to be heard, nor do we have to express ourselves through indirect hints out of fear of being rejected or fear of conflict.

Sample sentence starters that can help an adult be direct are:

“I expect . . . (your homework to be on my desk by eight o’clock)”
“I will not . . . (get your coat for you).”
“You must . . . (find your schoolbag.)”
“By (time), you are to . . . . (By 2:00, you are to finish the assignment.”)
“The rule is . . .(no hitting).”
“Your job is . . .  (to take out the trash).
“I have decided that . . . (you need to give me your cellphone for the rest of the day).”

These types of direct statements communicate to the child parenting messages that state:

“I am in charge and I will stand by my expectations”
“I’m not afraid of your strong feelings.”
“I’m not afraid of conflict.”
“You do not have a choice about this.”

Being direct is a way to be very clear, firm and assertive as a parent.

Being direct also positions parents to be in charge. Being in charge shows that parents have confidence and are not afraid of their children’s commonly resistive emotions and reactions.

Emotionally and relationally healthy parenting is never easy but very direct.  It is in no way allowing children to be in control of our homes. Rather it balances  power while providing stable boundaries to our children which will provide the structure and stability they need to grow up in a healthy way.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Information taken from the Effective Discipline curriculum.  Pages 116-117.  2014 Diane Wagenhals.  Licensed materials.  All rights reserved.

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