Fear-Based Parenting: When Fear Is Used To Control Children

Parenting can be frustrating, challenging, and exasperating!  Some days it feels like I am herding cats and no one is listening or doing what I’m telling them to.

Does Parenting Ever Feel Like Herding Kittens?

Some days I think it would be much easier if I subscribed to spanking and other fear-based parenting tactics.  “Just do what I say BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!!”  But the negative long-term effects of these tactics can create a whole host of other problems that I just don’t want to deal with.

In “Children Are From Heaven,” author John Gray, Ph.D said:

Children today tend to self-destruct
in response to fear-based parenting.

The biggest beef I have with using fear and guilt to get kids to behave and deter them from misbehaving is it’s teaching your kids that fear and guilt are an acceptable way to get what you want.

Fear, guilt, and shame are some of the most destructive emotions we can feel as humans.  A study at the University of Rhode Island tested the physical effects of emotions on the body.  They tested sweat of a person in an emotional state.

Testing revealed that the emotion of guilt produces an acid.  Yep, acid.  The stuff that can burn through metal in strong enough concentration.  So if your sweat becomes acidic when feeling guilt and shame, what else is going on inside of your body that’s harmful?

So What Are The Alternatives?

Set up rules. Sit down with your kids and set up the house rules.  Write them down and post them.

Reality Discipline.  Life is full of consequences, good and bad.  This is my favorite way to teach my kids about life in the real world.  Check out “Parenting with Love & Logic” to learn how to apply reality discipline.

Take a Break.  Parents need time-outs too from time to time.  Give yourself a break to catch your breath and regain your cool, even if it’s just 1 minute.  This minute of time can make all the difference in handling a tense situation with your kids.

Guilt, shame, and fear are outdated parenting tools.  You aren’t going hitch up your car to a covered wagon and and head into town to go to the mall.  Times have changed. Kids have changed.  It’s time for parenting to catch up.

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