Even at a young age, children should be encouraged to practice some initiative and independent thinking and it comes by allowing them the freedom to make their own choices, decisions and even mistakes. However, just like being too controlling, being too permissive is also not good. Where too much control results in low self-esteem and poor leadership skills, too much leniency often breeds a sense of entitlement. It’s a tricky act to balance between the two extremes. In some families, the temptation to avoid unpleasantness has resulted in a tendency to spoil and overindulge. Children thrive on reasonable boundaries. They may rebel and raise a protest or two, but ultimately, rules help children feel more secure by making them feel that a grown-up is in control. The important thing to remember is that there will be times when it is crucial to stick to your guns when it comes to some rules, even if it means a tantrum or a child who will be pouting for the rest of the day. You know how they say that if your kids like you all the time, you are not doing your job as a parent? “Mean” parents are the ones who are mature and responsible enough to not want their kid’s approval all the time. As funny as it may seem, some parents are actually afraid of disagreements between them and their kids; they steer clear of unpleasant arguments in the misguided impression that being a good parent requires kids who think mom and dad is perfect. Below are three things that will often drive them to call you a mean mom/dad, but for which they will thank you later once they’ve grown into mature and responsible adults themselves: 1. Bedtime/Lights out is non-negotiable Experts unanimously preach the importance of sleep to growing bodies and minds. Sadly, research also reveals that kids today are getting much less sleep than they actually need, especially now that handheld gadgets have become the norm rather than the exception. You are not being an ogre if you demand that your children go to bed at least nine hours before they need to wake up for school tomorrow. And no, you are not violating their rights if you turn off the wi-fi and require them to turn in their smartphones and iPads until morning. Kids need between 9 to 11 hours of sleep every day; that comfortable memory foam mattress UK and clearance children bunk beds UK you splurged on won’t do them much good unless they actually use it to catch some quality zzzs. 2. Dessert is a special treat, not an everyday thing Teach them that cakes and cookies are only a ‘sometimes’ treat. First of all, dietary guidelines dictate that sugar and fats should only comprise a small percentage of a healthy diet. Second, too much of a good thing makes it lose its magic; one of the reasons why birthday cake taste so good is because you can only have it once a year, right? The same principle applies to dessert. 3. Let them do chores, without getting extra money or rewards It’s all very well to teach your kids the value of work by paying them for odd jobs around the house but they should also learn to shoulder their share of the housework simply because they are part of the household. Tasks that are out of the routine such as painting the doghouse or clearing out the attic can merit extra pocket money or internet privileges but stuff like fixing their room or washing the dishes they’ve used should not. When kids are at their best behavior, it certainly feels great to be a parent. Realistically however, it can’t be Hallmark moments every time, all the time. As kids grow, they start to discover their own personality and start wanting to make decisions over where they go and what they do. Whether you have a preschooler or a teenager, there are bound to be clashes. This, according to parenting experts, is actually good. Believe or not, kids who can disagree with their parents are children who feel secure that they have love and approval no matter what. Parents who’ve been through years of child-raising caution against rigid control and perfectionism. It is neither healthy nor appropriate for parents to insist on getting their own way all the time. Of course, disagreements should be expressed within boundaries (raising the voice may be tolerable but foul language and throwing things are not).