Dr. Meg Meeker on Setting Boundaries

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Everyone has had their experience with an out-of-control kid. We try to avoid them, but we’ll all have an encounter with one at some point. Whether it’s at the mall, a restaurant or church, there always seems to be at least one in the crowd.

It’s easy to criticize the parents from the sidelines. But, as most of us eventually find out, parenting isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to discipline.

One of the toughest parts of being a parent is trying to figure out the best way to discipline your kids. You don’t want to go overboard, but you don’t want to be a doormat either.

Dr. Meg Meeker has a lot of valuable insight about parenting. Dr. Meeker is a frequent guest on The Dave Ramsey Show, where she offers advice to callers about situations just like this.

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So, how should you handle disciplining your kid? Dr. Meeker says, “Most parents today err on the side of being too lenient because they fear that if they set boundaries with their kids, the kids will rebel.”

That’s not a good strategy, she says. “When rules and boundaries are set with respect and love, kids will feel safe and loved.” On the other side of things, some parents are overbearing. “When this happens,” Dr. Meeker says, “it’s because the parents made rules and failed to offset them with love and affection.

“Kids don’t really mind rules. What pains them is when that’s all that occurs at home.” In other words, parents who repeatedly play the “parent card.” “When parents continually ‘power’ over their kids and never praise them or give them affection, kids will end up rebelling.”

Parents who don’t set rules have their own share of problems. Even teenagers feel unsafe without rules, Dr. Meeker says. “Kids don’t feel like they have a sense of control over themselves until they are well into their twenties. More importantly, they feel unloved.”

There lies the difficult balance for parents—making sure kids feel loved while not being afraid to discipline them, in love. Focus too much on discipline, or focus too much on “love” (i.e. total freedom), and you’ll probably wind up with a rebellious son or daughter.

Find the balance that works with your kids, and you’ll raise up little ones who don’t make other parents at the mall cringe.

Pediatrician, mother and best-selling author of six books, Dr. Meg Meeker is one of the country’s leading experts on parenting, teens and children’s health.

parenting | @ChrisBrownOnAir