How strict are your parents

Raising children: how strict do parents have to be?

Sohnemann did not clean up the nursery by dinner as agreed and the daughter is not back from her best friend on time. These and similar situations occur in almost all families. The question then arises for mother and father, how strictly they should react as parents.

Be strict: Many parents define this differently

Anyone wondering how strict parents have to be must first define the word strictness. Is it about obedience to everything father and mother say? In the past, the answer would usually have been yes, but yes Modern upbringing is no longer about completely patronizing a child.

Agreements or sanctions in the event of a violation should always be adhered to. Children need this clarity.

Children are also seen from birth as independent beings with a basic right to dignity. Strictness should therefore ideally mean that parents give them comprehensible rules. The boys and girls are shown boundaries and explained why they are so important. For example, why not steal in the toy store and why does a teen have to be home at a certain time?

However, these rules and limits would mean nothing if children realized that there were no consequences in the event of a break. Strict means to follow words with deeds. It is not allowed to punish arbitrarily! Ideally, the child will find out in advance what the consequences of crossing the border will be and these threatened sanctions must be followed, otherwise parents will lose their credibility.

Not violent, but strict: parents need to know the difference

In all discussions about a too relaxed or too strict parenting style, parents must never lose sight of the fact that strictness must not have anything to do with violence. In paragraph 1631 II of the BGB it is clear:

Children have a right to a non-violent upbringing. Corporal punishments, emotional injuries and other degrading measures are not permitted.

The German legislature clearly states that children should not be confronted with violence by their parents at any age. A slap in the face or the famous slap on the bottom, which some of today's parents' generation have experienced themselves, are legally taboo.

Children should not be afraid of their parents, but learn to respect. The two must not be confused. Strictness should therefore be based on adhering to rules and enforcing consequences such as TV bans.

It makes sense to be strict: Parents and children set up rules together

It is timely to explain to the offspring in a child-friendly manner why there are certain rules in the family. A statement like "Because I want it!" is extremely unsatisfactory for children and will not encourage them not to test out boundaries. If, on the other hand, the offspring at least roughly understand the meaning behind it, living together can be much easier.

The following points can help you to establish meaningful rules:

  • Explain that housework has to be split up, as mom and dad also need time for work and the like.
  • Make it understandable that neighbors and friends are sad when the child doesn't greet politely.
  • Explain that homework and study are important for a dream job.
  • Make it clear why coming home late can be dangerous and that parents then worry.
  • Explain how expensive life can be and that there is no longer any pocket money.

It goes without saying that the parents also take on the role of those responsible for these explanatory discussions. Respecting the dignity of the child does not mean that parents and offspring have equal rights in discussions. That sounds unfair and very strict, but parents need to take this lead as they are also responsible for the child.

The best books on rules in education

With all the rules and explanations, you can tell your child that not all rules are rigid, but that they can change over the years and with new framework conditions. For example, if a younger child is only allowed to stay with friends until 6 p.m., older children have longer going out times.

The rules established in the family are not laws set in stone, because children are getting older and need adapted guidelines. Therefore, always be ready to talk to adolescents about their wishes and also to hear their arguments for rule changes. For example, if a young person has proven that he can rely on his word, he tries to leave for longer.

Healthy rigor goes hand in hand with clear consequences

Often the family blessing is much less often wrong when rules are not imposed on the child without comment, but rather develop in a joint conversation.

Still, you can't expect miracles from it. It is normal for adolescents to try things out and, above all, to test how far they can push the parental rules. In a healthy way, parents are strict when they convey clarity: the garbage was not taken out, so there is no PC time tonight; as agreed.

In order for the consequences to be clearly implemented, however, they must first be in the room. Therefore, when setting up the rules, you should definitely explain how you will react to rule violations. If you forget to take this step, sanctions can quickly become arbitrary and unjust again.

Important: Do not threaten things that you are not ready to do.

Are you unwilling to really take the game console out of the nursery for X days? Then you mustn't threaten it. Have you already booked your holiday together? Then it is completely wrong to threaten the child that they are not allowed to ride in the event of a violation.

The point of view of mother and father must be clear and remain clear. Of course, your child will respond by screaming, crying, or pouting at first, but in the long run this clarity will help them develop. Therefore, do not follow the compassion of the moment, but stay logical and consistent.

A common mistake: mom says no, dad says yes

Of course, it can also be the other way around. The point is that parents must appear as a harmonious unit in their upbringing. If a parent is more willing to give in, children learn to do so very quickly. Often they play the parents off against each other and then everyone argues with everyone else.

Parents are not allowed to engage in power struggles. Even if children are particularly stubborn and pretend they don't care about punishment, parents have to stay calm together. Depending on the age of the child, it can be useful to arrange a short break to cool down the emotions and to return to the topic of conversation later. During this time, parents can also clarify in a one-to-one conversation how exactly they want to proceed.

Loving but clear and strict: Parents have to learn to combine the two

In an argument, one is far from thinking of a loving hug. This is normal and would not be desired by the son or daughter in the heated situation anyway. However, it is very important that a healthy rigor upbringing does not leave too little room for closeness.

Away from moments of conflict, you should always convey to your child that you love them and that you care. Always offer an open ear for worries and be willing to listen if your child wants to explain to you why they think a family rule is stupid. A change in the default may develop from this conversation; about more time at the game console when homework is already done.

Your child should never have the feeling that mom and dad don't care how they are and what they do! Even in the midst of puberty, when children clearly want to distance themselves from their parents, they always have the knowledge in the back of their minds to find protection in the family!


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Mario is editor and author on As the father of 2 sons, he reports on being a father. is one of the most popular German communities for fathers.