Disciplining Children through Divorce: Limit their Behavior but Not their Thoughts

Disciplining Children through Divorce: Limit their Behavior but Not their Thoughts

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Discipline is always a challenge for parents. Regardless of the age your child may be, they inevitably find ways to act out, challenge your authority and test the limits of their boundaries. Often these behaviors create tension and disagreements between Mom and Dad, which children are good at exploiting to their advantage. This, of course, is the time for Mom and Dad to forge a solid bond of agreement regarding their approach to discipline. If they do, the child is less likely to test the waters and more likely to alter their behavior into more appropriate channels.

When separation or divorce takes place, disciplining children can become even more difficult, especially if Mom and Dad are not on good terms regarding parenting their children. Parental discord can open the door for children to move into behavioral extremes, pitting you and your former spouse against each other. We’ve all seen the consequences when this occurs, and your children are definitely on the losing end.

Marriage and family counselor Dr. Paul Wanio (a contributor to my new book, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?)offers some sound advice on how to discipline your children without their developing a negative self-image. His suggestions include:

” Focus on limiting your child’s behavior, but not your child’s thoughts and feelings. If you do not allow your children the space to express who they are and how they feel about the subject at hand, they will repress the communication, but their resentment will incubate and grow.
” Remind your children that thoughts and feelings are not “bad,” even when behavior is inappropriate. The difference is important for them to understand — and for you to remember.
” Seek to influence thoughts, to understand and accept feelings and to improve their behavior. Making a conscious effort in this direction will bring rewards in terms of behavior changes and respect for you as a parent. This is obviously more difficult to do than it sounds, but it is definitely worth the effort. When children feel heard and accepted, they are much less likely to lash out at their parents, siblings, friends or school-mates.
” True discipline should not be thought of as punishment, but as a lesson to teach your child about Life. When you discipline from this mind-set, you will come from a supportive perspective and not get caught up in destructive behaviors yourself that come from vindictiveness and resentment.

Families that are dealing with divorce or separation need to pay particular attention to conscious disciplining. Children forced to handle the break-up of their family dynamic may be holding on to a broad range of feelings and thoughts that need to be expressed, accepted and influenced in a positive direction. I encourage parents to seek out the assistance of a counselor or other professional as soon as they sense any depression or other problem behaviors. This is not a time to forego discipline, which is an essential part of the parenting process. It is a time to pay keen attention to your children to make sure they are moving through the challenges of “change” in their lives with age-appropriate acceptance and behaviors that fall within a normal range for your family.

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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, has been facilitating relationship seminars and workshops for more than fifteen years. As a Certified Corporate Trainer and professional speaker, she now focuses her attention on coaching troubled families on how to create a “child-centered divorce.” For other free articles on this subject, to receive her free ezine, and/or to order her book, How Do I Tell the Kids about the DIVORCE? A Create-a-Storybook Guide ™ to preparing your children — with love, Rosalind invites you to visit her website, http://www.childcentereddivorce.com

© Rosalind Sedacca 2007 All rights reserved.

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Rosalind Sedacca
Rosalind Sedacca 29 posts

Rosalind Sedacca, CLC is a Dating In Midlife Expert and Dating & Relationship Coach. She is the co-author of 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50 & Yes, 60! Rosalind facilitates workshops, webinars and telesemainrs on dating and relationships for single women and men and is a blogger for the Huffington Post and many other websites and blogs on relationship issues. Check out her Business Listing on IMO here - https://ivemovedon.com/business-directory/rosalind-sedacca/

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  1. Britanica
    October 19, 18:31 Reply
    I agree completely! So many parents who go through divorce or a break up that involves kids only consider their own feelings and try to tell their children how to feel or how they will feel. It is important to let them express and vent so it doesn't end up manifesting in out bursts of bad behavior, poor grades, and lack of communication in the home.
  2. Rosalind Sedacca
    July 05, 15:44 Reply
    Thanks for our message, Britanica. Our goal at the Child-Centered Divorce Network is to protect children and educate parents about how their behavior and decisions affects their innocent children during and long after divorce. We have books, courses and programs to help parents make the best decisions regarding their children and co-parenting successfully. I also provide personal co-parenting coaching to find answers that work. Visit www.childcentereddivorce.com to learn more.

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