Let Children Know You Mean Business


John Rosemond fields questions about disciplining your child with purpose and whether or not it is appropriate to hold your child back a grade.

Q: Our 8-year-old daughter has not been completing chores and following directions. On the morning of a recent soccer game, she failed to follow some simple directions. On the way to the game, I calmly told her that, when we arrived, she would tell her coach she was unable to play because she had not followed her parent's directions. She balked, so I told her that either she obeyed or she would miss the remainder of the soccer season. She complied, and we went home where she sulked a good bit before realizing that it was better to follow directions. Was I too harsh? Some of my friends seem to think so.

Your friends are jealous that you are able to do what they cannot bring themselves to do: discipline their children with purpose. They wish you would not be a constant reminder to them of their weakness. I encourage you to never surrender to their pressure.

There is no point to a consequence if it does not produce a permanent memory. As you have witnessed, this experience has greatly contributed to her rehabilitation.

Q: My 8-year-old son is the youngest in his third-grade class. Some students are more than a year older because parents are holding back boys these days. I am concerned because he is struggling socially. His old friends are leaving him out. He says he has only one friend, who is also younger and kind of immature. Should we consider holding him back a grade to see if that helps?

If he is performing at grade level, then holding him back would be an example of robbing Peter to pay Paul - solving one problem, maybe, but creating another. I was the youngest in my class (I did not turn 18 until November of my freshman year in college), and while I retrospectively recognize that "maturity issues" were a problem for me, they were not any more problematic than the other sorts of problems my older classmates were dealing with.

Problems of one sort or another are the inevitable result of being human. Today's parents think they are responsible for solving all of their children's problems. It can't be done, and the attempt to do it damages both parent and child in ways that are ultimately worse.

Tell your son that everyone has problems. In every case, our problems can either strengthen us or weaken us, depending on whether we deal with them. You should help. Find after school social groups for him where the children are his age, for example.

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