I don't have to know you personally to know that you have areas of improvement in your life. How can I say this with such confidence? Well because I have areas of improvement as well. Discipline is something everyone could use more of! We grow disciplined in one area + then discover another area where we need to start working to improve. Our first experience with discipline comes when we are infants. Our parents instill in us values, ethics + morals for navigating through various phases of life. This experience can either be positive or negative.
Once we become parents, we have a choice to pass on the same parenting techniques or raise our children to experience the world differently. How do we know we are disciplining in a style that is beneficial to our child(ren)? Every child is unique; therefore, our techniques for discipline need to be flexible to fit the needs of the individual child. Despite this fact, there are key elements every relationship must have in order to exercise positive discipline: an authentic relationship, clear boundaries, encouraging the child's unique creativity to flourish + teaching the child problem solving skills.
.An authentic relationship. is the most important part of positive discipline! Without authentic connection, discipline is going to be extremely difficult. What is authentic connection? I can answer this in a short story (don't run away! I promise it's short! Ha!): When I am busy (cooking, doing laundry + yes even driving) my 3-year-old frequently asks me to look at her or what she is doing. Sometimes I don't look, but I say, "Oh yea that's nice sweetie!" or "Good job honey bunch!" (Come on don't give me that look - you've done it before!) Very rarely is this response enough for her. Most of the time, she says to me is, "No Mama! Look for real!" She won't stop asking until I authentically engage with her. She wants me to connect with her even for a moment! People crave authentic relationships! When they reach out to you + the authenticity isn't reciprocated, they eventually give up. A lot of teens I counsel are unfortunately in this phase. In their minds they have tried everything in search of the authentic connection from their parents. When they don't receive it there is a loss of respect + eventually the relationship itself grows to become chaotic.
.Set clear boundaries. Boundaries keep us safe! We have to make sure the boundaries we are setting are age appropriate, appropriate for the setting and appropriate for the situation! Age appropriate boundaries have fallen by the wayside in today's society. We allow our children to do just about anything in an effort to keep up wit the Joneses. I remember having to cover up my eyes during sex scenes when I was well into my tween years! Many children in 2016 can describe explicit sex acts to you without blushing or feeling embarrassed. This is not age appropriate.
Age appropriate boundaries keep a child's mind innocent for as long as possible + keeps the child safe. We also have to set boundaries that are appropriate for the setting we're in. There is a different way to behave in church vs. at home! You wouldn't "act silly" with a police officer who just pulled you over. Why? Because (s)he would probably just assume you are intoxicated or high + arrest you! Without teaching kids boundaries for settings, you end up with grown people who are outraged that they can't blast their Daft Punk at work while they take phone calls. We also have to teach kids appropriate boundaries for various situations they encounter. They have to learn what is appropriate family time conversation vs. conversation when guests are over to the house. You don't really want your child telling your neighbors you almost burned the house down trying to cook Christmas dinner!
.Unique creativity. While disciplining your child is definitely a task the birds couldn't handle, you have to find ways to invite your child's creativity into the process! Don't make them afraid to explore the world around them! Study them + tailor your discipline to fit their unique needs. Every child does not respond well to loud....we'll call it passionate.... reprimands. Some children would prefer that you simply state what the concern is in a normal tone. Don't be afraid to be spontaneous with your kids! They need to see you living life on a whim as well! Besides the less afraid you are to be spontaneous the closer to the cool zone you become in their minds. I know you don't believe me, but it's true! Kids are completely thrown off when their parent isn't lecturing them!
.Problem Solving. Positive discipline is about teaching kids to navigate the world without you. They can't learn to navigate the world if you're busy making all the decisions for them. Kids value independence just like the rest of us. When you talk to your child, allow them to brainstorm potential solutions for their concern. Teach them to think on their own. Part of learning problem-solving skills is understanding the process of various situations. For example, if your daughter wants a car that costs $4,000 but she has only saved $3,000 - the process she learns to deal with is to settle for a car that fits her budget or to exercise discipline + wait until she saves up $1,000 for the car she wants.
Discipline is more about nurturing that it is about reprimanding children. When you consider discipline from a positive perspective, it can actually be pleasant! I find that I am most frustrated in discipline my daughter when I have not allowed her to play a role in the process. She throws a fit, because she doesn't want to wear the clothes I laid out for her. I am frustrated, because I have to be at work + don't have time for her meltdown right now. However, if I allow her to play a role in picking between 3 outfits the night before this eliminates the issue. Positive parenting definitely takes a lot more work, but the reward is fulfilling!
How do you handle discipline in your house? Do you invite creativity into the process? Are there any tips you would add to this list? I would love to hear from you!