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Three Reasons Why Quick-Fix Parenting Doesn’t Work

Jaclyn Harwell July 22, 2016

 

By Jaclyn Harwell, Contributing Writer

We’ve all done it: yelled at our child as a knee-jerk reaction, sent them to their room to diffuse the situation, doled out a punishment in the heat of the moment before considering all of our options. It’s called quick-fix parenting and it really doesn’t fix anything. Below, I’ll tell you why quick-fix parenting doesn’t work. (Read: Gentle Parenting Raises Good Kids, Too.)

After working to heal my son from a number of behavioral disorders, I’m still trying to find my footing in the area of discipline. For so long, I had to decipher which behaviors were my son acting out, and which were out of his control, as he struggled with symptoms of ODD and Asperger’s.

Now that he’s come so far and experienced so much healing, I’ve been able to really get to the heart of discipline: what really works, and what doesn’t. I find that heat-of-the-moment discipline, aka quick-fix parenting, doesn’t really solve anything in the long run.

3 Reasons Why Quick-Fix Parenting Doesn’t Work

Here are three reasons knee-jerk, quick-fix parenting doesn’t work:

Doesn’t Get to The Heart of Your Child

When we react in anger and discipline too quickly, without thinking our options through, we may be stopping a child’s undesirable behavior, but what are we really accomplishing? Not much.

These quick-fix parenting impulses are really just a bandaid. They don’t help us figure out why our child is acting out so that we can really get to the heart of the problem, and, ultimately, reach our child’s heart.

Undoubtedly, reaching our child’s heart takes a lot more time and effort than quick-fix solutions, but it is so worth it in the long run. With four boys underfoot, I’m guilty of quick-fix parenting more often than I’d like. In fact, I would venture to say it’s my default. Getting to the root of the problems with my children’s behavior takes time, and some days I’m already stretched so thin, that I don’t take the time needed to really resolve the underlying problems behind my kids’ behaviors.

It’s pretty obvious once I stop and consider why my child is acting out, that there’s a reason, and often, one of them just wants my attention.

It also seems like I’m constantly breaking up fights between my four rough-and-tumble boys. My quick-fix parenting solution would be just take the toy away, or send them to separate rooms, but if I want to really reach my kids on a heart level, I will take the time to discuss with them the importance of sharing, treating each other the way they want to be treated, and extending forgiveness to one another for hurt feelings.

I know it’s easier said than done to stop and take the time needed to deal with these situations, but for the sake of improving your child’s behavior thanks to a real heart-change rather than just temporarily stopping a behavior with a temporary disciplinary action, it is worth it.

Read 5 Ways to Avoid Power Struggles with Your Kids to learn more about getting to the heart of your child.

Doesn’t Create Lasting Change in Your Child’s Behavior

When discipline doesn’t reach our kids’ hearts, we also don’t have much hope of receiving any long-term behavioral improvements from them. Instead, quick-fix parenting stops a behavior in the moment, but doesn’t do much to improve future behavior.

A child might think “yeah, I got punished last time I did this, but it wasn’t that bad, so I’m going to do it again,” when they receive a temporary, quick-fix punishment. When we don’t stop and explain to our kids why their behavior is unacceptable, or how it affects other people, they don’t have much motivation not to repeat the behavior.

However, I notice when I stop what I’m doing and really get on my kids’ level, look them in the eye, and explain the effects of their behavior to them, then apply a logical, reasonable consequence when necessary, they have a real heart change about the matter. The next time they are tempted to engage in the same selfish or hurtful behavior, they are more likely to exercise self-control and refrain from that behavior if I’ve taught them a lasting lesson that has made an impression on them versus yelling or sending them to their room.

Strains Your Relationship with Your Child

Most importantly, quick-fix parenting is not healthy for your relationship with your child. Yelling at your child belittles them and stresses you out. When I yell at my kids, it hurts their feelings, and leaves me feeling tense and physically ill.

Sometimes discipline does hurt my kids’ feelings, don’t get me wrong, but when I take the time to talk it through with them, they understand that the consequences are the results of their own actions, instead of feeling resentful towards me for serving up a punishment that makes me feel better in the moment. Quick-fix parenting leaves kids feeling like their opinions and feelings don’t matter. It doesn’t open up a dialogue between you and your child, which stunts understanding on both your parts.

It’s becoming increasingly hard to protect our kids from the ugliness of the world, but the better of a relationship you develop with your child, the better shot you have. (Read: The one thing we can do to make the world a better place.)

Three Reasons Why Quick-Fix Parenting Doesn't Work

Parenting is Hard

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Being a mama is the toughest job I’ve ever -or will ever- have. I have bad days; I yell; I lose my cool; I mess up.

This gentle parenting thing is new for a lot of us, and though I desire to raise my kids in a gentle way, it’s not exactly how I was raised. It doesn’t come naturally to me.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. I know old habits are hard to break, and it’s easy to fall back on what we’re used to doing: quick-fix parenting. Get results now, and worry about the consequences later.

There’s a saying: “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I want to get to the heart of my children’s behaviors in a loving way now, so that later, I don’t have to wonder about what I should’ve done differently.

Do you rely on quick-fix parenting? How have you found to avoid it?

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When Jaclyn became a mom more than eight years ago, health food was the last thing on her mind, but when her oldest son began to struggle with behavioral problems early in life, she dove in headfirst to begin learning about how to live and eat naturally. Since then, her children have been healed of eczema and digestive problems and her own thyroid disorder has been healed. Best of all, her son’s behavior continues to improve as he heals through diet. As she continues to fight for her family’s health and well-being, Jaclyn focuses on GAPS-diet and Paleo foods with an emphasis on nourishing and healing foods like broth and homemade sauerkraut. You can find her writing about raising a healthy, happy family at www.thefamilythathealstogether.com.
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4 Comments

  1. I agree explaining why a kid is being punished, e.g. denying them the things they like or are attempting to get through acting out, but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t negotiate with ’em. They need to know there are consequences for disobeying the rules. The lesson needs to be; “You do what the person in charge says or you suffer for it.” That is the way of the world and a parent’s job is to prepare them for that. They need to know if you break rules there will likely be a cost to them personally.

    Reply

    • Before anyone goes off a child abuse rant, I’m not referring to hitting, spanking, or any physical abuse whatsoever. Revoking or suspending privileges is far more effective.

      Reply

    • Honestly, I disagree with that.

      There are times my children NEED to question authority. I want them to think for themselves. I never want them to become doormats, or worse, victims of abuse, because they are afraid to question the person in charge. I want them to listen to me because they respect me…not because they fear me. They need to be able to stand up for themselves, too.

      Reply

  2. Hi Jaclyn, thank you for your time to shared this awesome post. For me, the #3 reason of Strains Your Relationship with Your Child is absolutely right, I do experience with it, so after I realize it, I avoid it.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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