When we shout and they listen, have we been successful?….it worked
When we use fear and we get them to do what we want without a fuss, have we been successful?
It is always a good idea to think about the long term outcome before we use discipline strategies. Our children’s minds and bodies are developing habits, what habits are they developing? Each strategy we use is developing a pattern of behaviour in them and the more we use it the stronger the pattern. Their brains do not distinguish between various situations; the pattern will show up in all aspects of their interactions. For example if we use fear in our discipline, you will develop a fear response pattern in their body. This fear then may show up in other situations. Sometimes our children may become scared in other situations which seem to us to be illogical. They may become less confident in other situations.
What else do we teach them to be fearful about? What could be the bigger outcome? E.g. Do we use the “fear” of our partners to get them to do something (I will tell your mom,dad,…) This can impact the connection between them, and between you and them.
The question is always, is our goal to solve the situation in the moment or to give a learning lesson? How do we decide which is more important? Maybe we can have a balance, maybe we can have both.
How can we do this?
Step 1 Understand and be aware of OUR needs
We are the starting point in the discipline cycle. When we are operating from a centred place and we know our outcome, we are more resourceful to discipline and parent our children effectively. When we have planned and thought of possible obstacles and solutions to those obstacles, our preplanning will help us decide what action to take in the moment. How often do we already know what to expect and haven’t planned a response?
- Take time to plan and think about your week to include all YOUR needs
- Social, quiet time, work, quality time with our partner, quality time with your children, responsibilities. If we don’t schedule it, we end up running on our children’s schedule which causes our frustration and reaction (and then we think it is our children that frustrate us)
It is our lack of meeting our own needs that cause our frustration and upset
Sometimes we are so busy in our schedule that we don’t even know what our needs are! Take the time to try and work it out.
- Think of possible obstacles – what can you put in place to help
e.g. children will be tired when you go out, what could you do? You have planned morning time for yourself and the children wake up early, what could you do?
When we make a conscious effort to think about and meet our own needs, we will parent from a completely different place. Even if it causes total disruption in the beginning! In fact, that is inevitable but necessary.
- What do you want to teach them really?
Get clear in your message. So often we are in the moment and just want them to listen, have we actually thought of what specifically the learning lesson is? Can we voice that in one sentence? Having long explanations causes our children to lose the message and we are less effective. Our focus is then on our upset or theirs and the lesson is lost, so we will have the same conversation the next time. Examples of messages: We brush teeth every morning, we brush teeth every evening. Saying our sentence with certainty that there is no other option and 100% expectation that they do it, gives them a clear message. When we are upset, nagging or think they won’t do it – that is the message they get and we are often unsuccessful.
I remember as a single mom with 2 small boys, one with special needs, it felt impossible to find the time for myself. I was so busy with their schedule that I didn’t even know what my needs were. I started small with a few minutes a day, it felt uncomfortable, I felt guilty, there was chaos in those moments. I did it anyway! I was at that stage that I had nothing to lose. It was the best choice I ever made. After a while I started to enjoy my time, my boys started to respect me more (because I was respecting myself) and somehow we were still able to get everything we needed to be done, done!
When we take time for ourselves we are teaching our children the most valuable lesson – to learn to meet their own needs too!
In my next blog, I will go into detail to understand their needs behind their misbehaviour. When we learn to meet their needs in our day to day interactions with them, we eliminate most of their misbehaviour
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