It's every parent’s worst nightmare: you enter a toy shop to buy a small toy when suddenly things get out of control. Your child is no longer interested in the Lego set and wants the latest Spiderman figurine that costs hundreds of rands. You refuse calmly, but your child starts protesting loudly. What do you do? You can give in to avoid a noisy tantrum or lose your cool and drag your screaming child from the shop – to the relief or disapproval of the other parents who’ve been watching.
But once you’ve removed yourself and your child from the embarrassing, exhausting and infuriating situation, what do you do? Send him to his room? Pretend it didn’t take place to keep the peace? Rant and rave? “The answer,” says Joburg educational psychologist Dereck Jackson, “is to set clear rules and boundaries for your child in the first place and make it clear that there are consequences if they overstep them.
“Having rules and boundaries in place creates structure and predictability in the home for your child, while the lack of them leads to chaos.” He says parents need to be assertive – not aggressive – when disciplining their kids. “It’s important to take action when there’s disobedience and your rules are broken,” he adds.