Parents Are Too Lenient
Discipline varies as the child matures and gains deeper comprehension of "wrong" and "right". Power struggles between mother and the two-year old in the formof temper tantrums should have eased up as the child now had the verbal maturity to negotiate his emotional needs and does not need to resort to physically aggressive behavior. School age children who have a basic schedule, such as morning routines, school, supper, homework, play and a bedtime hour, thrive emotionally on the "predictability" of the day and are easy to raise. Flexibility can easily be incorporated into structure by allowing children to make "age appropriate" choices, such as deciding which of two dresses may be worn, whether to brush teeth before or after getting undressed, which homework to do first, etc. The key point to remember is that the routine of the day stays the same, but "decision making" on how to carry it out can be implemented by the children. This allows them room to develop their individuality, while providing predictability, a major ingredient of emotional security. Children who lack structure in the routine of the day, due to parental guilt, ignorance or inability to remain consistent with "structure", often find themselves in reverse roles. Instead of the parents controlling the behavior of the child and the routine of the house, the child becomes the power figure that controls the parents and the entire household.
When Parents Are Too Lenient
Giving so much power to a child who does not have the maturity to handle it is like appointing a ten-year old to run for President. Who in their right mind would vote for a ten-year old vs. a mature adult to run the affairs of the country? What would our country look like? What would happen to the armed forces, national budget and crime? Surely, the country would be in a state of chaos in a very short time. Yet, many parents are doing just that, by empowering their children as the experts on authority, structure and limit setting.
To make matters worse, children lose more and more of their self-confidence as the parents allow them more and more freedom. A house devoid of daily routine does not create emotionally healthy children. It is no wonder that under-disciplined children saddled with a poor self-image become easily frustrated and cannot carry out long-term goals. As adults they suffer, having failed to attain the proper skills to delay instant gratification in exchange for long-term gains. Perhaps, most disturbing is the problem of poor adult impulse in areas of controlling anger, invading the physical privacy of others and not taking into account the consequences of doing or taking what is incorrect according to law or religion.
Cameron Rychlak, author of Personality Disorders states,
"Children cannot do everything that adults can do. They cannot foresee and plan as adults can for they lack the experience in living to do so correctly. Some of the most serious childhood anxieties comes from the failure of parents to set limits to a child's impulsive behavior, providing wise guidance and discipline when indicated. A child is not born with self-control; this ability has to be learned...."